Wednesday, 7 March 2007

Students assessed using Wikipedia

The BBC has reported that students at the University of East Anglia are to be assessed on their use of online collaborative info site, Wikipedia. They will be tested on their abilities to edit existing entries and to research and create their own.
It is argued that the site is a useful research tool and such assessment will allow students to develop their ability to think critically, along with their research and writing skills.
The site has been a source of much debate amongst academics, with the main issue centring around the fact that it is not peer-reviewed. One US university has already banned its students from using it. Further controversy surrounded the site earlier this week when it emerged that one of its contributors faked his academic credentials.
Despite these concerns, the University of East Anglia is adamant that Wikipedia has become an excellent source for research and information and feel they are able to utilise it to help students develop their skills.
I'll be doing a seminar on wikis later in the semester so I'll be keeping an eye on the debate.


Eleni Bouga, Athens, GR said...

Hi! Nic,

Interesting article I may say!
Wikipedia has definitely got a lot of attention and expansion the last six years. In fact, it's incredible that every time I look up for a term online a wikipedia source comes up in the top 5 of Google’s search engine; a fact that also reflects its significance nowadays.

And if a professor decides to incorporate Wikipedia’s use as part of an assessed project only depicts her attempt to both keep up with new trends in ICT and motivate students to think critically and I believe her! Even if one contributor faked his academic credentials that doesn't necessarily result in students being less important in what they do, after all it’s an assignment.

For me it’s not only the medium that counts but mostly the way things are done. Nevertheless, I look forward to hearing your wiki’s presentation later in the semester…

Deborah Findlay said...

Hi there,

I think this is a very bad idea by East Anglia univeristy and will no doubt cause much confusion amongst students.

During my under grad the use of Wikipedia in academic work was always frowed upon and only accepted if there were no releavant acadmeic writings on the particular subject.

I think it is a useful tool but a studnet's use of it should not be assessed. However, at the smae time many may say that our Blog assessment is not a highly acadmeic piece of work.


Nic said...

I think it's important for students to know that Wikipedia is a useful tool as a starting point, but nothing more. You wouldn't try to write an essay based on lecture notes or one core text, would you? OK, some people might but it's a bad idea. That's a good point, Debz, about the comparison between our blogs and the assessment described in the article. I think both are good examples of universities finally recognising the importance of 'new media'. It's here, it's not going away and we all have to live with it. To bring it into the assessment criteria is to introduce students to the world in a way they will benefit from in the future. Take me, for example; I'd never have made a blog if Derek hadn't made me do it! Now it's one more thing I'm a bit more confident about in the 'new media' world.