Hey, it's Way back Monday. Remember when the cool and hip thing to do in your class was to have your class write a Wikipedia entry?

I never did that assignment, for I always felt that there were some propriety issues and issues with intellectual property, credit and students with that idea. I think that students should interact with Wikipedia and openly use it, much to the chagrin of pretty much any teacher I speak to.

I found an interesting site the other day that made me reconsider the student-authored web entry assignment idea. It's this site called InFed, which tries to create informal audience based articles on pivotal critical authors and issues. A great idea, and a type of wiki-experiment that I think could be a good classroom assignment.

I don't think students should be writing for this website, but I do think this would make a great long-term project that would revolutionize teaching. The instructor could set up a Wiki for the particular class he or she teaches, and assign the students to modify, add, and subtract from the entries. After a few semesters, the Wiki would be well developed and a great resource for students down the line.


Instead of the semester-long project, we could have the semesters-long project. Students could return to the site and examine how their entry is changing with each new group. The class would have a product to point at and review for, theoretically, the rest of their lives. A community could build up between the students of yesterday and the students of today about why, who and how particular entries were crafted the way they are. This expands the usual sense of the phrase "community of learners" to an exponential degree.

I plan to use this idea when I next teach an argument theory or debate course. Upper level seems best, but I don't see any strong pedagogical reason that it should be excluded from introductory courses. It's just the time crunch and requirements issue generally that stands in the way of projects like this in the basic courses.