March 19, 2013

Wikipedia: A Tool for Teaching (Skeptical) Research

My colleagues and I recently presented at the NJEdge Faculty Showcase at Georgian Court University about how to use Wikipedia as a tool for teaching skeptical research.  

Wikipedia is one form of social media, and often at the bull’s eye of “new media myopia” (Obar, 2012). When asked to do research, Wikipedia is usually the first place students look. While we might want to teach students that Wikipedia is one place to start, it usually is not the one place where we want them to end. Therefore, incorporating Wikipedia into classroom instruction is a powerful way to teach students how to analyze the sources they use. This presentation will introduce educators to possible ways Wikipedia can be utilized in the classroom as a teaching and learning tool.

While most faculty and academics disapprove of using Wikipedia in the classroom for research, Parker and Chao (2007)  suggest that “Wikis [including Wikipedia] are one of many Web 2.0 components that can be used to enhance the learning process” in terms of collaborative learning, building research skills, and engaging students in the information literacy process.

Wikipedia says that their posts do not include original thought and are to be neutral. In other words, all information must be cited, and any uncited material is removed. Obar (2012) maintains that “studies have shown the Wikipedia is about as accurate as Britannica." Obar further suggests that there is still misunderstanding surrounding Wikipedia as not many academics understand the “distinction between Wikipedia as a tool for teaching and Wikipedia as a tool for research” (2012). Sadly, many educators ban Wikipedia  from the classroom as a platform for research rather than considering its possibilities as an effective teaching tool for both research and information literacy.

Most students, regardless of their technology background, have not successfully used wikis in the classroom. By reviewing Wikipedia best practices, educators might understand the value of incorporating this wiki into collaborative assignments or improving students’ understanding of information literacy. In Robert Cummings' (2013) suggests in his article "Are We Ready to Use Wikipedia to Teach Writing," some insights when using Wikipedia as a teaching tool:

  • Don’t have to use Wikipedia as a reference source; use it to bring authentic, immediate audience for student writing.
  • Wikipedia assignments offer the chance to consider student writers' responsibilities in topic selection.
  • Use Wikipedia as an opportunity to teach critical thinking.
  • Use Wikipedia to teach the importance of credibility and clarity in writing.
(Cummings is also the author of  Lazy Virtues: Teaching Writing in the Age of Wikipedia.)

There is, though, a difference between using technology to “supplement traditional methods of teaching, and using it ‘to create opportunities for new objectives that may not be possible without them’” (Benson qtd in Konieczny, 2007). Wikis, including Wikipedia, might reshape social learning behaviors in higher education, and it is “vital we use this technology, which has the potential to revolutionize the world of teaching and learning” (Jaffe qtd in Konieczny, 2007).

We are interested in hearing your thoughts. Would you use Wikipedia to teach research skills? Why? Why not? 

Would you use Wikipedia to teaching writing? Why? Why not? 


Cummings, R. (February 25, 2013). Are we ready to use wikipedia to teach writing? Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from

Parker, K.R. & Chao, J.T. (2007). Wiki as a teaching tool. Interdisciplinary
Journal of Knowledge and Learning Objects 3. Retrieved from
Konieczny, P. (January 2007. Wikis and wikipedia as a teaching tool. Retrieved from
Obar, J. (September 20, 2012). Why wikipedia does belong in the classroom. Retrieved from

If you are interested in reading more, check out:

March 5, 2013

National Translation Month: Four translations from the Russian by Alex Cigale

Alex Cigale translates for NTM

We had a blast during National Translation Month! Here are the parting shots: four very short poems by lesser known Russian Silver Age Futurists poets (Kamensky, Severyanin, Aseev, and Gnedov) translated by Alex Cigale. 2013 marks the centennial of the Russian Futurist movement,  a phenomenon about which Alex Cigale writes more extensively in em review:

And remember: until next year, read, write, and share your favorite translated poems.

Warm regards,

—Claudia Serea


In the Rathskeller

Stuffy. Filled with smoke. Bright voices
Of festively chattering guests.
With decadent music, boredom and insanity
Have madly twinned.... Damn it, over quick.
If only quicker this torture were relieved....
Life – is longing!
Just sing....

Dim, desiccated, disheveled faces
Burning in waves of tobacco smoke.
Laughing loudly wrapped in longing,
Everyone joyfully blabbering, all
About one thing, like the cursed, the blind:
Life – is longing!
Just sing....

Women’s leaden, depraved caresses,
Grief distorting their expressions,
Drunken tears and cheap makeup,
Truth painted on their deceitful lips.
Swirling whirlwind of a fiery dance.
Life – is longing!
Just sing....


IGOR' SEVERYANIN (1887-1941)

The Lady's Club

In my comfortable carriage, buoyed by its ellipsychic bearings,
I love to visit at golden midday the lady's club for tea time,
Where women so deliciously gossip about social trash and quarrels,
Where the foolish rightfully are unfoolish, the wise always stupid.

Oh all you fashionable subjects, from you my sorrow will unfurl.
Trembling lips with irony quiver like jelly made of wild strawberries.
"The natives look just like pineapples and pineapples resemble natives."
The Creole woman's quips are witty, recalling her exotic landscapes.

The mayor's wife begins yawning, leaning over the silent piano,
Looks out the window where fermenting July sensuously stumbles.
Around us fan the golden cobwebs, of spleen's lazy tribes a symbol.
Having thus compared myself, isn't this why I love the Lady's Club?

June 1912

NIKOLAI ASEEV (1889-1963)

To N. S. Goncharova

With the lethargy of boulevard waltzes,
having stirred the anesthetized faces,
in the electric sky a millstone rocking,
the revolutions of the sun disk;
saddened manikins their heads nodding
at their secret keepers the night guards;
walls fainted as though collapsing clouds,
stars stood, bemoaning, stained-glass windows;
above its yearning and lonely stony body,
having streak-pierced the earth's axis,
as a throughway without any off-ramps,
oblivion rattled with its cloud-cover;
beneath the horse-whips of swaying weather
stiffened the Fahrenheit sign's pale figure,
and the same demented melody was unraveled
by the improvising flute of midnight.



Roadside reverie

Hey! oak – whitely – whitely
The titanous overlordy of Heaven –
The bush of pondering-flutey
With overflowed ringing you rollick....
Leafting speckled like Dove feathers –
Sky splashed into rinse of leafs....
Hey! Oak-whiting, rustings-oaks,
Oak-limber rust-speckled flutter
Oak-writhing branchlings-ringer....
Hey! oak – whitely – whitely
The bush of roadside flutings.


Alex Cigale's poems have appeared in Colorado, Green Mountains, and St. Petersburg reviews, in Gargoyle, Hanging Loose, Many Mountains Moving, Redactions, Tar River, and 32 Poems, and online in Drunken Boat, H_ngm_n, and McSweeney's. His translations from the Russian can be found in Crossing Centuries: the New Generation in Russian Poetry, Brooklyn Rail In Translation, Modern Poetry in Translation 3/13 Transplants, and PEN America 12 Correspondences. A monthly column of his translations of Russian Silver Age poets and an anthology of Silver Age miniature poems are on-line at Danse Macabre and OffCourse, respectively. He was born in Chernovsty, Ukraine and lives in New York City.

Claudia Serea is a Romanian-born poet whose poems and translations have appeared in 5 a.m., Meridian, Harpur Palate, Word Riot, The Red Wheelbarrow, Green Mountains Review, and many others. A two-time Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, she is the author of Angels & Beasts (Phoenicia Publishing, Canada) and The System (Cold Hub Press, New Zealand). More at