There are a handful of immediate challenges that may affect the unit’s success.  First, there was the matter of curricular flow.  Did this unit seem random and disjointed?  Where did it fall into the rest of the literature-based studies?  Does it make sense to do research for research’s sake?  I was also concerned that the unit may be too narrow in focus.  If the unit was a more comprehensive exploration of research strategies and tools, it may be more useful to my students. 


In addition to my personal concerns about implementing this unit in my own classroom, there are larger concerns about presenting a unit of this kind to a wider audience.  Often when internet-based technology is integrated into the classroom, it changes the nature of the learning and the modes of instruction.  These shifts call into question certain assumptions about how classrooms, teachers, and learners operate.


Teacher control is one of the fundamental issues at stake.  In a constructivist, student-centered classroom the role of the teacher changes from expert-instructor, to supportive-facilitator.  When you add the additional wrinkle of Internet technologies, you open the door to all kinds of unanticipated problems.  This issue is aptly described in Provenzo’s prescient discussion of the pitfalls of increased the resources available to student, “as an instructor using the Web with my students, I lost part of my control over the texts we were examining” (1998, p.303).  The lack of control may be a major deterrent for teachers who are used to more traditional teacher-centric classroom models.


In this unit in particular, letting students choose their own topics is risky in its own right and Wikipedia represents a varied and unfiltered body of knowledge.  The combination could be highly problematic and may throw a more traditional teacher out of whack.  It would not be possible for a teacher to screen all the material that students access in such an activity.  This level of monitoring would also go against one of the basic premises of the assignment.  The exploration of Wikipedia is meant to be the students’ opportunity to experiment with sifting through information on their own.  Teacher interference would distort the authenticity of the learning experience.



Provenzo, E.G. (1998).  Educational computing as a value-laden technology.  In H.S. Shapiro & D. Purpel (Eds.), Critical social issues in American education (pp. 299-307).  NJ:   Lawrence Erlbaum.


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