Thursday, 24 October 2013

"Your Teacher Loves Wikipedia"

OK, this lesson isn't what you think.

Anthropology students had to look for information on a social scientist, e.g., Richard Lee, Sigmund Freud, in order to write a CV for them.

I told them to use Google and Wikipedia to get their information. Both the students and the teacher were shocked.

Here's my justification:

Your Teacher Loves Wikipedia (Click on the heading for slideshow & notes)

But the assignment didn't stop there. The students then had to network in the role of the social scientist they had researched. Ultimately, they had to find which other social scientists they could work with.

At first, I thought this task was a lot of busy work for content that could be delivered more simply: That is, give them a few chapters to read and then categorize the scientists. Instead, their teachers thought this exercise would make the task more interesting for the students.

But here's where the surprise came in: Content isn't what the students are learning. Where the students struggled was picking out what was relevant for the CV. It became a reading and critical thinking exercise. These skills were what they were learning.

Students also learned - in one boy's words-: "The internet sucks." He found six different sources: three stated that his social scientist was kicked out of school; three said he left school because the school was shut down. Learning is more effective if students figure out this unreliability problem on their own.

The teacher saved the day by asking the student, "Do you need to include his elementary school years on his resume anyway?"

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