My WikiFriend Awadewit recently co-authored a very interesting piece called Wiki-hacking: Opening up the academy with Wikipedia. For many years, she worked under a pseudonym at Wikipedia, worried that her intense devotion to that important project might be considered untoward by the academic community. Fortunately, scholarship has evolved with time, and she’s now able to work out in the open. Even more, she’s helping others do the same.

As the authors write, “Like an uninvited guest at a party, Wikipedia hovers at the fringes of academia.” I suppose I’m lucky as a high school teacher, because I face no rigorous “publish or perish” mandate. (Although given the intense pressures of No Child Left Behind and the Race to the Top, there are other paperwork needs for us to meet.)

Given its anarchistic nature, I’m not surprised that the ivory towers don’t care for Wikipedia. However, given its tremendous success (not only in terms of popularity, but also its intellectual rigor), I’m not surprised that academicians are warming to it.

One particular bit that caught my attention was this one:

students are seldom motivated to re-read and reflect upon their own work. Often they scarcely glance at the comments professors write laboriously on their work.

Yeah, I know a little something about that, heh. However, they make a good case for why Wikipedia feedback can be a categorical improvement on the standard authoritarian structures of the classroom. Elsewhere they explore the role of college-level Wikipedia projects that have combined online collaborative writing with student-centered reflective processes. (I’ve been peripherally supportive of such things on Wikipedia, but never had the kind of involvement I should have had.)

I would love to do some kind of Wikipedia project with my own students, but (a) I worry that they won’t be motivated to follow through with any meaningful contributions, and (b) the district is pretty strict about how and where students should participate in online work from school.

Still, there’s some very good food for thought there. My suspicion is that they slapped a photo of Chinua Achebe (who was the focus on my second Featured Article) just to hook me into their web of fandom, but I guess it worked!


Nomi Prins was a managing director of Goldman Sachs before she realized how sick and immoral Wall Street can be. She left to write about her experience and how we should take action to fix the US financial sector. Check out her interview with Super-Awesome Senator Number One Bernie Sanders on BookTV.

Today I’m listening to: Groove Salad!

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