Wikipedia for Teachers

I spent the day at the Humboldt University at a one day conference for teachers of computing. I was running the Wikipedia stand, Henriette and I had scraped together a stand with just 2 days time. We even had books and T-Shirts to sell, we were very proud.

But I had just discovered that we had a portal for using Wikipedia in schools (in German, but there is also an English-language version). So I had just set this up when the senator for schools (status of a minister for education in Berlin) walked by. I'm not shy, so I smiled and invited him for a look. He said that his people use the Wikipedia when they need to look something up. I showed him the portal, and he was impressed - everything for free (Berlin is chronically broke).

So that was a success right away! Then all sorts of people stopped by - I am rather well known as a plagiarism researcher and speaker, they didn't quite know what to make of me being with the Wikipedia. But a lot of people dropped by to talk.

And I realized the big problems about to hit Berlin - the people that are now computing teachers were computing teachers already 15 years ago - they are getting older, and there are no young ones coming after them. Many are very tired, they have so much work to do at school, so many pupils who hate to learn, even in computing.

So they were grateful to hear that they could use the materials in the Wikipedia, many had never really thought about it. I see that our virtual world is changing so fast, that we are leaving the teachers behind! So everyone who understands something about using the Web should grab a teacher and show them what the Web has to offer. They need it - and we need to have them on board, as they can insert some quality assurance into the article writing process.

We also spoke with many people about the Wikipress books. Yes, it is totally crazy to make bound books out of an online hypertext. But they can be put on shelves. And DVDs run on computers that do not have an Internet connection. One guy got all upset, because he understood the Free Documentation License to mean we had to give the stuff away for free. We explained it to him and he calmed down, but was still sceptical. It is difficult to understand, but a great concept, really. You can use it if you put in the source, the authors, and your derivative work is also under the same license.

Henriette and I wrote an article for Login during the sessions about the school portal, we were quite the productive people today!

No comments: