Tag Archives: Wikipedia

Wikipedia is your friend and so is this awesome timeline

I cannot tell you how much I whole-heartedly agree with this!

History Tech

We’ve had the discussion before. Wikipedia is not evil. Wikipedia is not revisionist history. Wikipedia is not an attempt by SPECTRE to take over the world. It’s just an encyclopedia, just one of the many online tools useful for quick overviews of basic foundational knowledge.

And for settling bar bets, of course.

So . . . Wikipedia is your friend. It really is. As is World Book. And Encyclopedia Britannica.

And if you feel comfortable agreeing with that statement, go ahead. Click the Read More link. Cause I’ve got a very cool interactive Wikipedia-based timeline that you need to check out. If you’re not comfortable with the Wiki idea, I’m okay with that. You might enjoy Scholarpedia or Infoplease as alternatives.

But you won’t get the cool timeline tool. Just saying.

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My Experience in Teaching a Class on Wikipedia, Part 2

This is a great series about using Wikipedia in the classroom. Many educators and students are wary of the tool. However, Robert highlights its role in a class that he taught this Fall. Check it out!

Other Voices


I posted last week about the class I led this semester, Wikipedia as a Research Tool with freshman in the Honors Program at the University of Memphis.  That post provided background on how I constructed the class and shifts in student thinking about Wikipedia over the course of the semester.

For a portion of the student’s final exam, they responded to two questions aimed at evaluating the course experience.  First, I asked about the most important insight they gained from the class.  Second, I asked the students to recommend changes for the next time  the course is offered.

Below I present a representative sample of student responses to the first question and my commentary.  Next week, I will follow the same format on the student suggestions about changes for the next time I teach the course.

What was the most important insight you gained from this class?

Perhaps the most…

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My Experience Teaching a Class on Wikipedia, Part 1

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Many educators have an unhealthy relationship with Wikipedia. While we may use it to grab some quick information or knowledge, we tend to forbid our students from accessing. On the one hand, we recognize it as a ready repository of information on the other hand we are hesitant to accept its validity. Check out Robert Connolley’s College Seminar class on teaching Wikipedia. I promise, it will be eye opening!

My Experience Teaching a Class on Wikipedia, Part 1.

How to Find License Free Content for School Projects

I recently read an amusing, but instructive article, entitle “PSA: Don’t Let Salami and Google Images Get You In Hot Water.” While amusing, it also highlights a rising concern for educators and students, as well as creators of content, about copyright and copyright infringement on the web. What can you use freely for education and what requires a fee? How do you cite material? How can you use it?

In my class, we do a lot of image based content. Most recently, my students are working on a Digital Storytelling project (you can see a highilight of the project in this article: “My First Attempt at Employing Digital Storytelling in the Classroom“). I work every year to teach my students about copyright and proper use of content. However, I know that it’s a learning experience for me as well. What I have learned is a consistent for use in an educational setting is material with a Creative Commons License.

A Creative Commons license is used when an author wants to give people the right to share, use, and even build upon a work that they have created. CC provides an author flexibility (for example, you might choose to allow only non-commercial uses of their own work) and protects the people who use or redistribute an authors work, so they don’t have to worry about copyright infringement, as long as they abide by the conditions the author has specified. – Wikipedia

This year, I have gathered (sometimes with the help of students) some ways to search for License-Free or Creative Commons Licensed content and am listing a few below:

CreativeCommons.org – Just what the site says, it focuses on purely Creative Commons Licensed products. You can use CreativeCommons.org to license your own material. You can use their website to search for material on a myriad of sites.

Google Advanced Search – Google’s Advanced Search allows users to search via license content.

Fotopedia – Great for humanities, Fotopedia has a repository of images from around the world. What makes it so amazing is that it is entirely user built. So those photos from a vacation you took to Rome years ago? Make sure that you upload those to the site and build their library!

YouTube Creative Commons – While searching YouTube videos specifically for creative commons content is best done via Google Advanced Search or CreativeCommons.org, it does merit mention here that YouTube has a strong video collection of Creative Commons content. Even more so, I greatly encourage that when you upload your own videos to YouTube, you check that “Creative Commons” License box!

Wikimedia Commons – Wikimedia is similar to Wikipedia except it is a database of Creative Commons and Open Source Licensed images, videos, and sounds. If you are a creator of content, this is a great place for you to show off your work!

Flickr – One of the most popular online tools for storing and sharing images, Flickr also expressly has a Creative Commons” element in their advanced search feature. Again, upload those vacation photos or drawings of your own and be sure to check that “Creative Commons” box to support education and creativity!

I’m sure that there are several other places to find Creative Common or Open Source material, but these sites are a great place for educators and students to get started. And, even with Creative Commons, be sure to always cite the original piece! Even if you are allowed to use, distribute, and modify someone else’s work, you should always give them credit!

Using Wikimedia in the Classroom for Creation

Screen Shot 2013-02-27 at 9.16.53 AMMany people are familiar with Wikipedia, the online open encyclopedia. However, Wikipedia is just one component of a larger Wikimedia world. One of my favorite tools for students to use for creation is Wikimedia Commons. This is a repository of images, sound, video, and more that is free for users to use and share (with very limited licensing restrictions).

Materially hosted on Wikimedia is under an open content license. This means that users can reuse the material without contacting the creating, but:

  • some licenses require that the original creator be attributed,

  • some licenses require that the specific licence be identified when reusing (including, in some cases, stating or linking to the terms of the license), and

  • some licenses require that if you modify the work, your modifications must also be similarly freely licensed.

If you have your students create videos, presentations, websites, or more, this is a great place for them to learn about copyright law and licensing restriction without fear of unwittingly violating the law.

A History of Warfare – Interactive Maps

The website Conflict History is an interactive map that traces the history of warfare across the globe. Span the interactive timeline to look at when various conflicts were taking place. Likewise, pan the interactive map to examine specific battles or war-related events. You can pull up images, wikipedia entries, and even add and edit your own information. As its powered with google maps, you can zoom in, view in satellite or traditional, and edit appropriately.

Why Students Should Rely on and use Wikis

Most of us have either been taught and/or taught that one should never use Wikipedia as a source of information. I’ll admit, my opinion on Wikipedia was once quite negative, but it has in recent years taken a turn. Now, while I still will not allow students to use it as a peer reviewed source (as, similar to all encyclopedias it is not peer reviewed), I actually recommend that they use it as a starting point. In fact, I find that the bibliographies at the bottom of Wikipedia are an invaluable starting point. I even make the occasional edit (not just for grammar), trying to move the percentage of female contributors up a few notches.

In fact, I even encourage my students to edit the famed online encyclopedia as well as to  use Wiki’s for their own organizational purposes. I recently used a Wiki page for a team project in professional development (far easier to keep track of all the details without having to organize a slew of emails. Wikispaces will even give free Wikis to educators and students.

My opinions are not alone here, it appears that many educators are adopting Wikis in their classroom or as a means for students to organize their projects for class. This is becoming more common place not only in high school, but especially the University Level. You can read about one professor’s endeavors in this New York Times Opinion Piece.