Existing and emerging digital tools have a number of applications for classroom use.
- Assignments that use Wikipedia, Storify, and Zeega can support the promotion of digital fluency among today's undergraduates, who, despite the myth of "the digital native," need significant guidance in how to extract information from the web and engage with it in a scholarly manner. Thanks to the minimalist interfaces of these tools, the learning curve from introduction to mastery is a reasonable one. Use of these tools can also inspire in students an interest in public scholarship and social engagement.
Wikipedia is the free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit.
- For better or worse, Wikipedia is often the site of students' first introduction to an unfamiliar topic. Studies have shown that Wikipedia is about as accurate as Brittanica (e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reliability_of_Wikipedia …). When it comes to African and African American Studies topics, Wikipedia entries are often limited and inadequate.
- Students can practice their skills in fact-checking, -writing, and -citing by editing Wikipedia entries. A Wikipedia editing assignment is a multi-purpose one, where students:
- - critically evaluate Wikipedia as a platform for transmitting information
- - take an active role in the creation of publicly available historical knowledge
- - better master the history that they are learning in class
- - participate in peer review of Wikipedia entries, learning together
- - practice a new digital skill (Wiki coding and Wiki-style writing)
- Here is an example of one Wikipedia article that my students edited and expanded significantly this semester:
Pros and cons of Wikipedia
- - while editor usernames are attached to each entry, authors do not own their work
- - open to the public, other users can (and likely will) alter entries
- - students need detailed introductory assignment guidelines and rubrics, even more so than with traditional assignments
- - Wikipedia provides excellent classroom support, including online tutorials to scheduled peer review
- - students practice several research, writing, and digital media skills
- - student reaction to creating public information is highly positive and Wikipedia editing can become a cherished activity
Storify is a digital tool that helps its users tell stories by curating digital media.
- Here's a short video describing how it works: