ENG 792E Matthew Vetter 2/17/11 Introduction to Assignment In the early stages of composing this assignment, I first thought it might

be applicable to English 151. However, as I began exploring the process of writing a new article on Wikipedia, I quickly realized that such a project might be too advanced for freshman students. The assignment requires a personal commitment and interest in digital writing, I think, and will involve a lot of trial and error, and frustration. For these reasons, I think this kind of assignment is best suited to a course which is advertised as a “Writing in Digital Culture” or “Online Literacy” which might fit best in either 382: Rhetorical Approaches to Writing or 284: Writing about Culture and Society The assignment itself will need to be connected to another project earlier in the quarter in which students explore the editing capabilities and limitations of Wikipedia and familiarize themselves with the platform’s policies and procedures. As I make reference to in the assignment, this earlier project would consists of an edit of an existing article most likely paired with a reflection essay. The justification of the assignment is perhaps expressed best in the pedagogical benefits acknowleged by editors at the online encyclopedia itself: In contrast to traditional writing assignments, working with Wikipedia may offer several advantages for students:
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students are held accountable to a global audience for what they are doing, and thus may feel more devoted to the assignment as a whole; students' work will likely continue to be used and to be improved upon by others after the assignment has ended; students learn the difference between fact-based and analytical writing styles; students strengthen their ability to think critically and evaluate sources; students learn how to work in a collaborative environment students gain insights in the creation process of texts on Wikipedia. This enables them to draw conclusions about the purposes for which Wikipedia is best used; students gain insights in the creation process of texts on Wikis in general, an increasingly essential skill in a modern IT workplace (that can be put on one's CV); and students understand that they not only consume information, they help to create it. (“Wikipedia: School and University Projects”)

The most exciting (and problematic) aspect of this assignment is that the students produce a very concrete, “real” product that will be subject to extra-academic review. There are real issues involved, however. I’m especially worried about topic generation. A local-interest topic ensures (somewhat) that Wikipedia won’t already have the entry, but it also is risky in terms of notability. If the topic isn’t deemed significant enough, it’s subject to deletion.

Works Cited
“Open Content." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 14 Feb. 2011. Web. 17 Feb. 2004. “Wikipedia: Article Wizard." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 23 Jan. 2011. Web. 17 Feb. 2004. “Wikipedia: Notability." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 26 Feb. 2011. Web. 17 Feb. 2011. “Wikipedia:Tutorial." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 22 Jan. 2011. Web. 17 Feb. 2011. “Wikipedia: Your First Article." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 2 Feb. 2011. Web. 17 Feb. 2011 .

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