Wikipedia Becomes a Class Assignment

Jessica Mintz writes of
University of Washington-Bothell professor Martha Groom’s Wikipedia assignment
:

“I would find these things on Wikipedia,” she said, and would think, “Gosh, this is awfully thin here. I wonder if my students could fill this in?”

Wikipedia has been vilified as a petri dish for misinformation, and the variable accuracy of its articles is a point Groom readily concedes. Since the advent of the Web, she said, the quality of sources students cite has deteriorated.

For her students, the Wikipedia experiment was “transformative,” and students’ writing online proved better than the average undergrad research paper.

Knowing their work was headed for the Web, not just one harried professor’s eyes, helped students reach higher – as did the standards set by the volunteer “Wikipedians” who police entries for accuracy and neutral tone, Groom said.

The exercise also gave students a taste of working in the real world of peer-reviewed research.