First Take: Something Wiki'd This Way Comes Print

Something Wiki’d This Way Comes

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Photo by Marc Studer.
Wikipedia is often mocked for its less-than-authoritative content. (A headline in the satirical newspaper The Onion once had the online encyclopedia celebrating “750 Years of American Independence.”) But unlike college professors who ban the use of Wikipedia in student research, Martha Groom, a professor in the Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences program at UW Bothell, has made it a central part of her teaching. Students in Groom’s recent course on environmental history and globalization were required to submit their final papers to the Web site for publication. “Is there crap on Wikipedia? Sure there is,” Groom told the Chronicle of Higher Education. “So let’s be part of making it better.” She says the format forces students to stretch themselves—trading the knowing tone of the typical term paper for the neutrality of an encyclopedia entry. So does the prospect of having their work publicly corrected by the site’s regular contributors, or even deleted by its editors. Groom says the result was one of the best batches of papers she’d ever seen.