Sunday, January 16, 2011

Jewish music, teaching, and wikipedia

I was reading a boingboing bit on the wikipedia and I've had a stray thought. I've fantasized about teaching an undergrad college course about Jewish music. What if, in that class, each student's principle essay assignments were actually to be delivered as wikipedia articles on the topics? (e.g. the student writes a new wikipedia article). An article on the history of niggunim, or the reform and orthodox camp movements? Or Cantor Leib Glanz? Or the klezmer-hiphop musician Socalled? Or, if the topic exists, a significant extension or revision?

What if this was the norm? And all the energy of (at least some) student work was producing useful content? And because these are new topics, they can't just go to wikipedia and copy the existing text. This would be a forcing function for more detailed research. Now clearly this won't work for everything. Encyclopedia articles are a specific form of writing, heavy on details and citations...light on new analysis or critique. But significant consideration needs to go into the selection and arrangement of facts.

Just a thought.

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