The Tyee newspaper out of British Columbia has an interesting article about Wikipedia and it’s coverage of the Russian school hostage story a couple of months ago.
On the morning of September 1, 2004, a small armed force
captured a school in western Russian town of Beslan, taking hundreds of
One day later, a small article describing the event appeared on Wikipedia.org,
an open-source encyclopedia. Over the next 24 hours, Wikipedia users
compiled the information from other news reports together into one
article, revising and expanding it 46 times.
People coming to the article from Wikipedia’s “Current Events” page
could read a concise summary of the event, with links to the history of
the region and the ongoing war. This was old school, just-the-facts
It reminds me a lot of what I wrote last March after the bombings in Spain. I was, and still am, in awe of the coverage.
I’m sure there are probably even more comprehensive sites out there for
research on that event, but I just found it so fascinating that dozens
if not hundreds of people were by their own volition adding to the
story as new information came out, tweaking it as they went. And that’s
still happening; I wish the current events page had an RSS feed.
But it would just be so neat to do this with students. And Ken Smith (who I wish would get back to blogging) had a great idea about just this over a year ago:
But it also makes me think about creating something like it — why not
ask the students in a class to create a current events page, updated
daily or weekly or monthly as the field requires, for the course topic
and the conversations that are going on in the field? At the end of one
semester the task might be picked up by students who enroll for the
next semester’s course.
We start a new quarter on Tuesday, and I’m going to see if we can’t make something like that happen.
Seedwiki allows me to create an account for each kid, so we can track
who adds what. I’ve been working with the Media Lit teacher to set this
up, and I think we’re ready to go. Stay tuned…
I think the larger point, however, is that Wikipedia is a metaphor for
the editor’s role we all need to accept when we enter the read/write
Web. This is a skill and a literacy that kids (and teachers) need to
learn. And I think wikis, moreso even than Weblogs, are a tool to teach
that. I like the way the article ends:
Using Wikipedia requires a major shift in the
way we view our sources of news and reference. Wikipedia shows that
information should be tested, as a way of getting better information,
but also that it should be shared. If you have knowledge, offer it to
the world. If you see something wrong with Wikipedia, fix it.