Apart from the use of technologies for learning, one of my major interests is in supporting academic integrity - not just plagiarism detection, but the creation of an environment where scholarly work can flourish. At the 6th International Integrity & Plagiarism conference this summer, I found these two interests overlapping in a new way (for me) in Toni Sant's keynote talk.
For a long time, I have been trying to persuade academic staff that Wikipedia is not necessarily the work of the devil. I argued that it can be a useful place for students to start researching a topic and can direct them towards more authentic and useful resources. I'd even heard of student assignments based on editing wikipedia, but I hadn't really thought too much about it.
What's wrong with Wikipedia? @tonisant #6iipc pic.twitter.com/tYWP8szPTI
— Sharon Flynn (@sharonlflynn) June 17, 2014
Toni Sant is the Education Organiser for wikimedia UK. I won't give a synopsis of his talk here, but suffice to say that I was impressed by the 5 pillars of wikipedia (which include a statement about openness) and especially excited about the Wikipedia Education Program. Who knew there was a whole bank of resources for educators and students?
At the time of the conference, I knew that I wanted to know more and to get involved. Following a twitter conversation with Toni, he put me in touch with the Wikimedia Ireland Community, a small and very new group of people interested in promoting open, wiki-based activities in Ireland. Before long, I found myself part of the group and participating in (almost) weekly meetings via skype. Moreover, I am now the proud owner of a wikimedia account, have edited a wiki and even uploaded a photo to Wikimedia Commons (of the Sage in Gateshead, where the conference took place).
I have a couple of projects in mind, based around the Wikipedia Education Program and have been talking to some people locally in NUIG about these. The Wikimedia Ireland group is very supportive, and refreshing in their enthusiasm. Next month I'll be attending the EduWiki Conference in Edinburgh, where I'm sure I'll learn lots more. I'll report back on that on this blog.
The current project that Wikimedia Ireland is promoting is Wiki Loves Monuments. This is a global photo contest, and Ireland is involved for the first time this year. The group have put a lot of effort into listing monuments, by county, on the competition page. Anybody can submit a photo (as long as it's of one of the monuments listed) during the month of September. Winners will be announced at the end of October, with an awards ceremony in mid-November.
You can follow Wikimedia Ireland on Facebook and on Twitter (@wikimediaIE). Expect to hear more from me about this new adventure. It's always good to try something new.