Wikitravel and other wikis - students as authors I intended to write this blog as a follow up to the one on students writing

for Wikipedia – and I checked back to see when it was written – almost exactly a year ago. Since then quite a few articles have been written by our students for Wikipedia. And now we are looking at other wiki sites, such as Wikitravel…

Language learners often travel and so they have plenty of travel experiences to write about. Even those students who aren’t travelling much can write about where they live or another place they know well. There are a few challenges with this approach to writing… • • • Quality: ensuring that the quality is high – wikis are public resources and so the student’s input should be clear and of a good level. Accuracy: there is also the question of accuracy of information – although this is easily checked according to sources that are referenced by the student Speed: students also sometimes need to write quickly – a few months back I suggested a student write about Obama – only to find that a lot of information was added to Wikipedia (Simple English version) a couple of days later.

An advantage of Wikitravel (compared to Wikipedia) is that there are often opportunities to add content – even in English. Although some locations such as Bangkok have a great deal of detail, others such as Esteli have very little text. True that Esteli is a little off the beaten track – but even visitors to major destinations can add a paragraph or two about something specific. And of course, this is very much in the spirit of wikis – that everyone writes a little about what they know about. Interestingly, if the student is learning Spanish, then there are many more opportunities to write for Wikitravel. As of today, the entry for Toronto in Spanish is looking a little on the thin side… Toronto es una de las ciudades mas grandes y pobladas de Canadá, se distingue por la CN Tower que esta ubicada a un costado del estadio de los azulejos (el unico estadio en el mundo

con un domo removible). Esta ciudad moderna y multicultural ofrece una gran cantidad de atracciones para sus visitantes. There are, of course, other wiki websites for students to write for… • • • • Recipes (http://www.recipeswiki.org/wiki/Main_Page) Music (http://www.wikimusicguide.com/) Star Wars (http://swfanon.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page) And many more… http://www.wikia.com/wiki/Big_wikis

Wikis are much more than mulitlingual resources for language classes - they can become a collaborative and easy way for students to publish their written work and gain a genuine sense of accomplishment. Some related links… • • • • Dogme 2.0: What “Teaching 2.0” Can Learn from Dogme ELT Are Textbooks Still Relevant in a Web 2.0 World? Simple English Wikipedia in Language Lessons Google Maps Street View for Language Learning

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