Wikipedia Collaboration: Metalworking

The Wikipedia page I contributed to was the page about patina as it applies to metalworking.  Under the section Applied Patina I added my two cents on how you can make your own substitute for ferric acid by mixing one part muriatic acid with two parts hydrogen peroxide. I thought this was a good change because ferric acid is dangerous to work with and expensive. I made my contribution small because I didn’t want to interfere with anybody else’ work and because I don’t know very much about what I was talking about. I did however learn a lot about hydrochloric acid as an indirect result of this assignment.

I didn’t get any feedback or comments, but I did notice that my contribution was always deleted within a day or two. I put it on there three times I think, and then lost interest. Many people contributed to this page before me, and perhaps one or more of them were quite emotionally invested in keeping the page as it is. For this reason I thought it best not to participate in the talks as I did not want to offend, also I don’t know how to use that function.

The formula that I describe works best with copper based metals, which has its own page as it pertains to architecture, but I didn’t find my formula there either.

During the first week of the semester during my practicum, my class com positions were altered everyday as students were shuffled in and out to accommodate scheduling conflicts etc. This made it difficult to in terms of teaching the safety content of the course due to the logistical difficulties of making sure that all students in the rooms were qualified to use the machines with my ever changing class list.

To accommodate this, I started the course by having the students do the research portion of the woodworking P.L.Os. I booked one of the computer labs for the first week for students to do their research. The assignment was for each student to research one woodworking tool, one species of wood and one joinery technique. Once they had their information, they were to compile it on a poster board for display along with pictures.

At the grade 9 level I believe that it is acceptable for students to use Wikipedia as a research tool. I base this off the assumption that it is unlikely that anybody is using it as a platform for disseminating misinformation about dovetail joints etc. Furthermore, the level of research that my students were accustomed to amounted to little more than copying and pasting information found on the internet, which is by definition plagiarism. I am told by many of my more experienced colleagues that this remains an ongoing challenge when transitioning elementary students to secondary school. Part of the lesson included an explanation of why Wikipedia would not be acceptable at the post-secondary level; it was for the majority of the students their first introduction to the concept of the peer review process. In this sense I think Wikipedia can be an effective learning tool for teaching younger students how to compile their research. Wikipedia can also be an effective starting point for novices to become introduced to new concepts, or as stated in the study conducted by Shen et al, ”In this sense, an outright prohibition of Wikipedia may not be a good idea. Instead, it is useful and necessary to incorporate Wikipedia into the academic curriculum, and this will further provide students with the unique opportunity to develop digital literacy. Digital literacy education will connect learning with real life, encourage students to effectively find and critically evaluate information while using digital technologies, increase students’ ability to create and communicate their ideas and help them to be wise consumers in the digital age.”

To combat this, I explained and demonstrated how easy it is for an instructor to catch a student plagiarizing materials from the internet. I compromised with them that since this was an introductory research assignment, they did not need to attach a bibliography to their poster-boards, as long as they compiled their research and paraphrased it their own words.

At the end of the assignment I only had one student plagiarize his material. His report was written in British Standard English and I easily found his sources online. As well, he couldn’t explain to me what some of the words and sentences meant. I also had one student who refused to use Wikipedia as it was not peer-reviewed; her poster-board was about handsaws, dovetail joints and pine.

While pragmatically this assignment was useful for satisfying the research portion of the P.L.O. and afforded me time to solidify my class list, I believe that I would limit it to the way it stands now as opposed to extending it to include editing of the Wikipedia pages themselves. I believe that that is a lot to ask of a fourteen year old. As well, as a woodworking teacher that’s not really what I do.

Works Cited:

Shen, X., Cheun, C., Lee, M. (2013) What leads students to adopt information from Wikipedia? An empirical investigation into the role of trust and information usefulness. British Journal of Educational Technology, 44(3), 514


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