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A New Take on Wikipedia

March 12, 2009
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I wrote, back in September 06, that I saw no use in using WIKIs in the classroom.  I now wish to tailor my response just a tad.

I had argued that creating a class-specific WIKI, one where you develop topics/posts just in the class, only for the class, etc. would be a waste of time.  I still stand by that, for the most part–open for suggestion a bit more now than I was then.

I am intrigued, though, by Robert M. Cummings use of Wikipedia in his Composition course. I may be an immediate convert.

Cummings argues that writing for an audience is of the upmost importance.  I agree.  So, to get students thinking about audience, he moves the intended reader from its starting point in academia (the prof) slowly out to the entire world–or at least that portion that reads and edits Wikipedia pages.

With such a semester arc, Cummings is able to initially engage the student in “academic” writing and then to more “practical” writing: that is, where the audience give not just a grade, but immediate, and sometimes pointed, criticism.

My initial dismissal was of navel-gazing writing.  I applaud Cummings for his creative and practical use of using Wikipedia in Composition.

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