The e-learning exercise for the fourth week of EDUC5860 – Issues in Digital Technology in Education was to edit a Wikipedia page and then Tweet the link of what you edited to the class at the class hashtag, #EDUC5860. I’ll be honest, editing a Wikipedia page is something I’ve never done. My first thought was, “how am I going to find something to edit that other people are not already on top of?”
So far I’ve done a lot of reflection about what got me interested in e-learning in the first place and that was drawing. My interest in drawing and teaching myself to draw has been a life-long pursuit and in the most recent years this has taken a strong turn to the digital. The primary tool that I currently use for digital drawing is Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. I follow the product on various social channels, but had never looked to see if they had a Wikipedia entry. I found that they did indeed have an entry, but to my surprise it was far from up to date. Anytime I’ve looked at anything on Wikipedia I’ve always found it to be incredibly up to date so I never really gave much thought to attempting to find something to update. The last version of the software mentioned on Wikipedia was the 2010 release. So, I took it upon myself to update the entry with details about the 2011 version, the subsequent Sketchbook Pro 6 release, and the anticipated Sketchbook Pro 2014, expected to hit this summer.
I thought a bit more about the sources where I keep track of updates about Sketchbook Pro; the products blog and social channels. I noticed that the Wikipedia entry only mention Facebook and Twitter, but not Tumblr, YouTube, deviantart or Google+ so I added links to them. When I published these updates I noticed that the Tumblr and deviantart links I added has small arrow beside them and the YouTube and Google+ links I added had little padlocks beside them. The Facebook and Twitter links that had already existed on the entry had no such markings. In order to investigate I clicked on the Facebook and Twitter links and was taken to Wikipedia entries describing Facebook and Twitter rather than the Sketchbook Pro Facebook and Twitter accounts as I expected I would be. I decide to to do a Google search for the meaning of these small icons beside the links I had provided and found out that it is not common practice to include links that lead out of Wikipedia to other sites from the body of a Wikipedia article. This is something I had never noticed before, but now that I know, I see that it is in fact true.
I decided to leave the links as I had entered them to see if some moderator might change them or take them down, but no such thing has happened yet.
As I mentioned earlier, Wikipedia, for the most part, always seems to be very up to date. Having recently returned to academic studies I have found it to be an indispensable resource. Just like the old encyclopedia sets that I used to use when commencing research back in high school, Wikipedia provides detailed information about nearly every topic under the sun. Only now that information is much more convenient to access and instead of being instantly out of date, it seems to rarely, if ever, to be out of date. The biggest surprise for me about Wikipedia is that there are so many people in the world who are so dedicated to keeping it accurate and up to date. Having this sort of information readily available is an invaluable and convenient resource for any student. Obviously, because the information is crowd sourced, students need to be taught to be vigilant and to double check any information found on the site, but even this process is made relatively simple by the extensive use of citation links on Wikipedia. Aside from providing an overview of nearly any topic imaginable, citation links are a great way for students to begin taking the next step of digging more deeply into the topic they are researching and take the first step toward discovering legitimate, academic sources that they themselves can cite as true sources.