Take a look at Murder, Madness, Mayhem (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Murder_Madness_and_Mayhem as well as the associated essay (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Jbmurray/Madness) written by the instructor who facilitated it.
What piece from the instructor’s essay was most interesting or most helpful to you and why?
Respond by Wednesday, 8/3
Reply to another person’s post by Friday, 8/5
Hi to all! I hope you are doing well!
As per my answer to the prompt, I personally found many pieces of the essay interesting, and others (or the same) useful as well.
It was interesting to me to see the topic that the project was about. Furthermore, I was surprised to see Domingo Faustino Sarmiento’s “Facundo” (or “El Facundo”, as it is popularly called here in Argentina). A small digression, if I may: this was a positive surprise to me, since my feeling is that more often than one would think, and for many -some complex- reasons, Argentina is not taken into account within Latin American studies, or it is as a rather “special case” (we Argentinians have our share of responsibility in this happening, for sure) within Latin America. I personally do not share this view.
The statement that Students “are told that Wikipedia is bad, but they are not often told why” is perhaps one of the most interesting and useful for me. I do find a very interesting, important and even urgent challenge for the academy here. I think that in this sense, Murray does good to the academy, in taking a dare that many avoid, and that is not making the academy stronger, nor popular knowledge more academic.
I was also interested in learning about Wikipedia’s “Featured articles”, of which I knew nothing about. Furthermore, I realize now that I knew little about Wikipedia itself, and that even though my ideas of why it may be bad for the academy still remain, they are now changed and enriched as well: my position of when and how to use it, and my arguments to not overuse it, are now clearer, stronger and more precise than before.
The use of the first person of the plural (i.e. “We”) by the Instructor in this assignment was also something that caught my attention. I think we (we Instructor) often do this, although sometimes we Instructors are doing very different things than them Students are. Here the “we” felt more real. I have experienced these “real we” before, and they are great teaching-learning experiences, indeed.
I honestly could go longer, but I think this is more than enough; actually, sorry for being this long! I actually enjoyed this material very much, and I think it is very interesting to think about. I remain open to exchanges! Best to all!
I think the article provides a good jumping off point for a more nuanced discussion of Wikipedia than one sometimes hears. I also was interested to read your comments about the “special case” of Argentina in Latin American studies.
Hello Bruce! Thank you for your comments.
Ok, I should correct myself, saying “Latin American studies” was perhaps irresponsible of me… but I do think that in the wider (i.e. not necessarily academic) view we Argentinians are often seen as “a special case”, and this in turn may transpire into the academy.
Argentina has a strong proportion of European immigration (mostly Italian and second Spanish), stronger than most (if not all) Latin American countries. Our Jewish community is the largest in Latin America, and one of the largest in the world. The country has also received many other migratory waves: French; Germans; Lithuanians; Ukrainians; Armenians; Lebanese; Syrians; Japanese; Taiwanese… the list goes on.
Now those aspects of “a special case” often makes us somehow stand outside of LatAm. We often do not fit into the Latin American stereotype… and some Argentinians here do not feel Latin American. This is not the case of me, of course.
I could go on and on on this. Sorry that I did not bring hard data with my comments, but there are certainly tons of it as well. Argentina is a very interesting country… even if you discount my own positive bias when talking about how interesting my country is.
I hope these words help! We can catch on later, of course! Best.
Hi Guido, thank you for educating me about Argentine, which is located on the other side of the earth (from the Japanese point of view. ) I must confess that I do not know much about the country, and the Wiki project we read about is actually helpful to a person like me, although of course the articles may not be 100% reliable.
Hello Noriko! I was sorry you were not with us in the group yesterday!
I’m glad to know you’re interested in Argentina’s history. We have a considerable Japanese community here (in fact, my first girlfriend is 1st. generation Nikkei!).
I appreciate the input the Japanese community has provided us with here, so many positive values. I actually studied Nihongo for 3 months, I sadly couldn’t keep the pace of the lessons. I always dream of going back at it, I love it!
Thank you for your words. Take care!
I think this assignment is great in many ways. Firstly, I found the instructor’s comment about the student writing their research papers usually just for us, as instructors, and not a larger public interesting. I think the instructor is partially right saying that this small target audience has the result that students might do their work in haste and sometimes with not that much consideration of quality, potential readership, and impact in the field. I think to write for a larger audience at that stage and interact with their criticism can be valuable for the learning experience. In some ways, students already do this when they publish blogs and text on social media that exposes them to comments and feedback. Can we take this practice a step further and ask them to produce text for the public that is rooted in and substantiated by research? I agree with the instructor that the practice of writing for a public audience does encourage students to do research, to revise and to develop critical thinking skills. The fact that the instructor is not the sole reviewer, may make the grading more objective.
By the same token, to set the stakes that high, might also be really intimidating for students who might not feel confident to put their writing out there (yet). Perhaps it might be worth thinking of somehow finding middle ground? Perhaps ask students to create wikipages for their course that can be shared, edited, and expanded by other students in subsequent courses? This would mean that the resource is still open and could potentially be made available on a course-website that is accessible to a larger public.
But overall, I am intrigued by this assignment, and I think we should in general gear towards assignments that seem more purposeful to students and that are not just produced for the ‘bin.’. At the same time, students also need space where they can experiment without being ‘watched’ by the public.
I was also intrigued by the observation about “writing for an audience of one person.” I liked your idea of finding a middle ground between writing only for the instructor vs. writing for the public. I think that keeping everything within the class–or perhaps the instructor’s future classes only–is a good way of approaching the issue.
Hi Mengia! I am again replying to you, which is not the best in terms of diversity, LOL. But I will be so busy for what is left of the week that I fear I may not be able to reply to somebody else. Additionally, your insights are never boring to read, so revisiting your work is enriching as well!
Your comments on “the wider audience” are aspects I did not note on my own thread, and now I wish I had. I agree that the process may be much more engaging for Students and furthermore, it is much more “real world oriented” than just writing for ourselves in the course. With that said, it may also be more of a challenge for Students. I kept thinking about it as I was reading you, and then your following paragraph basically states that.
I think your idea of “intermediate steps” is an interesting one. Additional steps like going fully public may be an Extra Credit, for example. Furthermore, they may even not provide points: some will dare just for the thrill of it, some will stay easy. I do not see this as necessarily bad.
Overall, another good work here. I was also “intrigued” by the assignment, as you defined it. It has certainly mobilized me and challenged my views. In this sense, I applaud Murray!
I hope these words are interesting for you. We can continue at the meeting tomorrow, or through here. I hope you stay well! Best.
Thank you for your kind words about my post(s). I really enjoy the conversations happening here and I thin k this is a great space for reflection and exchange.
I am also grateful for you pointing out the “Argentina-case” 🙂 We predominantly do live in a US-Europe-centric world that we tend to forget about the fascinating places where wonderful art is produced. This in itself could be interesting for us to design assignments. To perhaps even think how we can overcome such Global North-bias.
Have a great week!
I also think the idea of writing for a wider audience is interesting but somewhat frightening and see connections between how students write in our courses and how we (or at least I) write as academics. Academics tend to write for very limited audiences. Our books are expensive and our articles are behind paywalls. I’ve written a book and a few articles now and have not received any feedback from any of them after their publication. I often feel like we write into a void, which is probably similar to how students feel when they write essays just for us. I bring this up because I worry about my ability to teach students how to write for the public when I really have no experience with it. Does anyone else have these concerns?
So interesting to read your comments that reading about the “students writing for an audience of one” had you reflecting on that same phenomenon for your own scholarly work. I hope that Wednesday’s short section on Open Access for scholarly writing (including the link to a short video on the slide) are helpful. Here are a couple of more resources on Open Access:
A brief intro from Georgetown University (https://library.georgetown.edu/scholarly-communication/introduction-to-open-access)
Another video (this one is quite a bit longer) from a CUNY presentation on Open Access ( https://youtu.be/EnZ1LAB1W24)
I think the assignment discussed in the readings, i.e., creating and editing Wiki entries, is a great exercise for ‘open’ learning that ties what students learn in class to the real world. Also, I find the role change fascinating because it casts students in the expert role and expects them to behave like one, sharing the accountability for accuracy and appropriateness of the content they produce.
Another benefit of the Wiki assignment is the purposefulness and sense of pride that students derive from completing it. Their contributions are highly visible in a way not many literature class assignments are to the whole digital world, and the assignment is meaningful to the students and to the world outside of academia at the same time. The assignment invests in student’s potentials, knowing that they will make maximum effort when they are challenged and when the tasks are not purely for the sake of getting grades.
The best part of the Wiki assignment may be that the students wrote ‘about’ Latin American literature, which did not require them to reveal highly personal or controversial information on a highly public space on the Internet. In my beginning Japanese course, as I mentioned before, I routinely assign students to post videos of them talking in Japanese, e.g., introducing themselves, talking about their daily routines, preferences, and describing family and friends, on a closed community platform, such as Flip (a.k.a. Flipgrid) and VoiceThread. They are too personal to share with the entire digital world because there are drawbacks to too much openness, unless students themselves decide to share the information completely openly. Therefore, I am now wondering what could be used as a medium or semi-open platform that is stimulating yet safe for students.
In reading your reflections on the Wikipedia project and the last statement on how to achieve a balance between stimulating students and protecting them at the same time, I think is the most challenging aspects of using public spaces. I remember you have consistently raised this issue of safety, which I totally share. This is something I think about more, especially since taking the seminar and discussing with you all on the benefits and drawbacks of OER pedagogy. Thank you for these comments.
I love the idea of students using VT to introduce themselves in another language. Perhaps it could be useful for students to think about bet practices to learn Japanese, a language that for most of ups has no resemblance with our native tongue. I would be intrigued to hear hoe students learn such a language and what helps them.
Have a great week!
Here are my thoughts on the article “Murder, Madness, Mayhem” –
The first reaction I had in reading the article was that JB Murray was referring to me directly, as I tend to warn my students to be cautious in using Wikipedia material, and nothing there should be used as the main or only source of information in writing course essays. So, I had to smile in reading some of my own thoughts about Wikipedia reflected in the article.
The Wikipedia project undertaken by this literature professor certainly was very ambitious, and required high levels of student engagement. In reading about the process of creating articles, what was surprising, and something I was not aware of, is how rigorous the editing and review process of writing a “featured article”. I was also very surprised, as was JB Murray, that fewer than 0.1% of Wikipedia material are featured articles.
I liked the idea of students being graded for their course work by some outside, objective judgment and not by the instructor. I think this is a very interesting notion, and got me thinking of ways to devise writing assignments that would be shared among the students in class, and they would review and grade one another’s work. The grading system would be based, for instance, on whether in reading each other’s essay/articles they found the material clearly stated, easy to comprehend and informative, (whether each learned new information on the specific topics read). One of the problems highlighted in the article, and which I believe there is some truth, is that students are not in the habit of re-reading or reflecting on their own work. One of the goals in students acting as editors/reviewers in the class would be to provide feedback to each other and hopefully motivating each student to revise, or improve their own work. This idea, of course, does not advance the goal of students “engaging in a real world project”, and contribute to a public domain, which I think would be amazing, but on a smaller scale, and within the world of the class setting, they would be active learners, and engage in collaborative work.
There has already been a lot of great discussion here and I hope I’m not repeating too much. The most interesting part of this essay for me was what it taught me about the complexity of Wikipedia. I knew that there were dedicated editors who would usually flag and delete any obviously incorrect information but I did not know that there were good and featured articles that had been subject to special peer-review processes. I find the idea of creating a good or featured article far too ambitious for one of my courses but really like knowing that they’re out there.
I also really liked the discussion about finding reliable sources and citing all of our information. This is something I definitely emphasize in my classes and appreciate that Wikipedia requires it. I think, perhaps, rather than requiring students to create articles from scratch, I would ask that they use information from their research papers to edit or add on to existing Wikipedia pages. This could also just be an extra credit assignment at first, so that I can figure out how it will work and how I want to grade it with a smaller number of students.
See you all tomorrow!
I think your suggestion of editing an existing page makes a lot of sense. I will think about that for future assignments. Generally, it might be beneficial for their learning experience for them to be referred to as ‘scholars’, rather then just students, to indicate that they are experts in their own right.
Unfortunately, I can’t be at today’s meeting. I wish you all the best.
Noriko and Mengia,
You both raise the question of privacy in platforms for student created materials. I think Noriko and I have talked about using Academic Commons to create a course site (like the one we’re on right now) as well as a course Group, both of which would be limited to the class participants.