It was about six years ago that UBC professor Jon Beasley-Murray first noticed his students citing Wikipedia in their essays.
If they were going to use Wikipedia for his class on Latin American literature, he thought, they might as well improve some of the shoddy articles on the subject.
For the past five years, students in his class have edited or contributed articles to Wikipedia as part of a class assignment.
Wikipedia is described as a “free, web-based, collaborative, multilingual encyclopedia project supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation”. It was launched in 2001 and takes the first part of its name from the Hawaiian word “wiki,” for fast, and is the name of a server program that allows anyone to edit the website’s content through their own browser.
At the moment, Beasley-Murray is one of relatively few professors using Wikipedia in class assignments, but that may change this year. The foundation behind Wikipedia is hoping to get more teachers using the website in the classroom. So far, the universities of Alberta and Toronto have agreed to take part in the project.
By Jordan Press, Postmedia News November 4, 2011