Wikipedia in Education: Acculturation and Learning in Virtual Communities

The present study investigates on the learning impact of utilizing Wikipedia’s community in education. Today, many instructors assign their students editing Wikipedia’s articles as part of their coursework. Participation in a cyber-community during an educational assignment exposes students to a brand new culture and netiquette, to a set of explicit and tacit rules and cultural norms. This requires students to internalize the embedded online culture in order to join the community — a form of acculturation which may cause stress, but which can lead to opportunities for growth, learning and development. By taking advantage of a virtual community, educators can literally bring a whole thriving community into their classrooms. The acculturation of the educational group into the culture of a hosting virtual community, through collaborative actions, conflicts and disturbances, results to the formation of a collective zone of proximal development: what the students’ group manages to perform today with the aid of the community’s members will be performed independently tomorrow. The formation of a virtual learning community through the procedural and structural coupling of two discrete activity systems opens a new space for participatory learning.

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About Giorgio Bertini

Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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