Archive for December, 2011

Wikipedia for research and in the classroom

In continuing my quest for preparing students for a debate contest in march, I presented a second activity in teaching Japanese English students how to research by introducing them to Wikipedia. Why Wikipedia? I wanted them to know both the positive and negative aspects of using the open online encyclopedia. We provided them a worksheet with questions we wanted them to find answers to, such as: What is the population of Japan. It was explained that any information found on Wikipedia could not be used unless there was a source number [##] in the paragraph, and even then, they had to verify that the information was accurate with the source by visiting the linked source. When writing the answer on their worksheet, they had to write, “According to {source}…”

Aside from the introduction of Wikipedia, how to search was also practiced. Students were shown how to search for Wikipedia pages (using the search function embedded into the website), as well as how to search for keywords within Wikipedia through the use of the command+F on the Macintosh. For people not familiar with this shortcut, command+F allows anyone to search for words or phrases not only within a webpage, but within any document that is opened on the computer. So if you are working on an 80-page thesis, you can use command+F to search for words as you are editing.

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