The Moodle Wiki, A Crash Course In Fact Trustworthiness

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Everyone uses Wikipedia, but there is a well-documented stigma from academia around the site (and similar Wiki-based operations by extension.) Sometimes, professors dismiss or ban usage of the site in the classroom—though admittedly this can be justified in some cases. A more detrimental behavior is to actively campaign against its use in general, even though faculties are at least as frequent visitors as the general public.

In fact, trying to look into the usage patterns of Wikipedia by researchers and professors was one of the goals of “Science is Shaped by Wikipedia: Evidence From a Randomized Control Trial,” a new working paper by Neil C. Thompson and Douglas Hanley at MIT. Wikipedia is often considered, from a scientific standpoint, a communication initiative similar to “general and popular treatises,” a use endorsed by its fifth place in the global website traffic ranking. But as the authors suspected, the role of Wikipedia in academia seems to go beyond a simple reference. Or as they state it, Wikipedia not only reflects science, but shapes it. Data show some interesting findings:

  • In general, the presence of a Wiki page on a given topic makes it more likely to be featured in upcoming scientific publications.
  • There are several instances when the traffic volume of a new Wiki page corresponds to an increase in academic writing about the subject in the Wiki.
  • There is a correlation between a research article cited in a Wikipedia page and its reference in academic research a few months later.

In short, Wikipedia has an equity role in science making, and it is high time academia begins to acknowledge it.

The official Moodle Blog offers some suggestions to make the most of the Moodle Wiki in classroom activities, or as part of one. For starters, the Wiki is flexible enough to be fashioned into other types of team or peer-based activities, like the Workshop but trading off flexibility for structure. Rather than focusing on a specific use scenario, the best learning outcome of the Wiki lies in the principles in which information is curated, sourced, and laid out. As the real value of Wikipedia lies in its information validation process—a harder endeavor to replicate as time goes by—using the Moodle Wiki in the classroom should emphasize the importance of reproducibility: given the primary sources, any collaboration process should be able to create a very similar Wiki in terms of content and structure.

Read the research by Thompson and Hanley here (PDF).

Moodle Documentation on the Wiki Activity.

Read “Build knowledge with your learners using wiki in Moodle” at

eThink LogoThis Moodle Practice related post is made possible by: eThink Education, a Certified Moodle Partner that provides a fully-managed Moodle experience including implementation, integration, cloud-hosting, and management services. To learn more about eThink, click here.

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