Friday, November 20, 2015

College course teaches students about Appalachia by having them post articles to Wikipedia

While some college professors discourage students from using Wikipedia as a resource, one course at Ohio University is embracing the website, using it to publish articles students have written about Appalachia, Jacob Zuckerman reports for the school's newsletter. Ph.D. candidate Matthew Vetter, who teaches English at Ohio University, told Zuckerman, “Part of why I’ve found Wikipedia useful for teaching is because it is such a productive writing community. I’ve found that observing it can help students understand some important things about writing.” (Ohio University photo: Matthew Vetter)

One Wikipedia subject Vetter thought was lacking in material was Appalachia, Zuckerman writes. So he got his students to begin writing local articles about Appalachia for Wikipedia. Vetter told Zuckerman, "You get things that aren’t well represented because they aren’t valued. We see encyclopedias as these very neutral things when in fact they’re always very political and very ideological.”

Vetter said he believes Wikipedia is a more valuable educational resource than most people realize, Zuckerman writes. "Vetter argues that most articles are better researched and more frequently revised than most people would assume. Citing Wikipedia’s entry on 'The Simpsons,' Vetter points to the entry’s 267 citations and hundreds of revisions since it was created almost 14 years ago."

A few articles Vetter's students wrote:

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