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Wikipedia as a learning community – all about education (Wikimania presentation notes)[edit]

Cormac Lawler (en:User:Cormaggio)

See paper

There are a number of key fields which inform my view of learning in Wikipedia – essentially a social theory of learning:

It is intimately linked with learning from experience, experiential learning (and reflection):

and also the meta-notion of Wikipedia itself as a learning organisation:

Wikipedia is both a product and a process. It has a clearly defined goal - an encyclopedia for all - but it still needs to be created. This is underpinned by policies and guidelines, but also with social norms of discourse, which is in constant re-definition and negotiation. This, discourse, is the fundamental mode of Wikipedia, and the quality of this discourse is one of its defining traits (eg. NPOV).

There are many instances of learning on Wikipedia, from trivia to reading/thinking critically to sharing and negotiating perspectives in a diverse social network. My central argument is that our individual process of learning in Wikipedia should be considered our greatest asset, and become a core competency. The idea of creating a whole new type of research or academic community brings with it the prospect of a new conception of expertise. We are definitely sustaining a model of distributed (shared) expertise, but we are possibly also creating a new community of experts.

The danger is if we lose our critical edge of ourselves or we forget about other contributors as real people. We must maintain our humility as well as our boldness, and we must maintain the creative tension between experience and competence. Above all, we must continue to reflect critically on our experiences so that we continue to learn and adapt.

You could further this discussion by asking yourself:

  • What is your role within Wikipedia?
  • What have you learnt from your experiences on Wikipedia?
  • What could you teach someone else?
  • In terms of the coordination of your activities with other Wikipedians, what could you have done better in the past and what could you do better in the future?