Your School’s Wikipedia…Did you write it? Are you sure?

We have all been there. Normal day at work. Focusing on something we feel is important. Then, the call comes in. Something has been, or is in the process of being, hacked.

What? You haven’t been there? Well there is no better way to waste an afternoon and fully test the responsiveness of your IT team.

In this case, students thought it would be awesome to re-write the school’s Wikipedia Page. Now this is not really hack, and actually, it is not even illegal. In fact, if they did not do it on-campus, it would be a hard battle to win with parents, aside from giving them a day of detention.

They cleverly said the school was located in North Korea, and that the cafeteria was ground-zero for typhoid a few other delicious conditions (Level 4 Radiation Zone was one of the best).

They actually did not write anything defaming, libelous, or slanderous. Bad language was also avoided. Overall, a pretty mild annoyance.

Not thinking, as the school changed the content back, some kids tried to change it. They did this on-campus while logged into the network. So I had the joy of searching through logs to find them. I am pretty sure the original rewrite happened in the summer, and off-campus. That was safe. The later move…no so much.

Understanding Your Wikipedia

If your school has anything official on Wikipedia, a person needs to be appointed to manage it. This requires reading it once a week. Nothing else is required unless updates are made.

Whomever does this needs to be a registered user with a school email account. If they find a mistake, added by someone else, they should not delete it. Instead, they should flag it, and contact Wikipedia.

There are clear instructions for doing both of these things here:

Wikipedia is very quick to reply, and they will revert the page and then set it for approvals. Once a page is in approval mode, nothing will post automatically. So checking it every week should then resolve any issues.

There is Always an Opportunity to Learn Something

If your school has an internet filter or firewall, you ( a normal person) can request to see all the Wikipedia searches students are executing (maybe students and staff). This is very interesting.

I was expecting to see searches about Batman Vs Spiderman, or Kim Kardashian. Instead, I found that students were looking up math topics, complex biology subjects, controversial historical figures, and mostly good academic content.

Now I am going to work on a monthly report that captures what the students are searching, and compare that to curriculum topics. I am curious about this question: Are the students interested in these topics, or are they being prescribed? 

This is why it is called Educational Technology, and not just Technology.

Tony DePrato

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