When I commenced university last year I was informed that academic writing needs to include reference to authors who are authentic, valid and reliable. I have usually tried to steer away from WikiPedia as we were told that this is not a reliable reference to use for our assignments, as the information can be altered and changed by anyone. While this is true, I can see that WikiPedia offers a starting point when researching a particular topic and provides some background information for the user. When used within the classroom it is important to inform students about the reliability of this site so they begin to recognise 'distinctions between important and unimportant information' (Siemens, 2004).
WikiPedia was launched in 2001 and is a web-based encyclopedia that promotes online collaboration and interaction by millions of viewers around the world (WikiPedia, 2009). This is a good example of connectivism in the Digital Age where 'new information is continually being acquired' that is not 'entirely under the control of the individual' (Siemens, 2004). The information and images contained within this site are covered by the creative commons license agreement and can be used for educational purposes.
As you know, throughout the term my grade 1 class has been looking at animals, their features and habitats, and in particular wild animals. For my visit this week I want to challenge the students to use their prior knowledge by posing some interesting questions. Questions such as 'Why do lions live in prides?' or 'Why do elephants live in herds?' will help to promote higher order thinking and through group collaboration develop some shared understandings.
Using WikiPedia (through the class computer/projector) as a lead in to the lesson could provide some images and interesting facts around this topic and offer some background knowledge, or a stepping stone, from which groups could reach a possible conclusion. I searched the site and found a page for both 'prides' and 'herds' however the information was not specifically aimed at younger children and would need to be read to them.
Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. Retreived August 16, 2009, from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm
WikiPedia. (2009). WikiPedia. Retrieved August 16, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia