Really Using Wikipedia

One of the great things recently is the absence of posts and questions about whether or not students should use the Wikipedia as a source for project research.  Ever the optimist, I’d like to make the assumption that teachers are finding and allowing (hopefully encouraging) the use of this very powerful tool.  As we know, from good researching, it’s not going to be the sole source but certainly is a credible source to include in the mix.

With any researching tool, though, how do you know that you’re getting what you need?  Don’t you get that nagging feeling at times that there’s probably something else that you’re missing?  Are you and/or your students really using the Wikipedia to its full potential?

WikiMindMap is a tool that map just come to the rescue.

In a nutshell, it will create a mindmap based upon a query that you send it.  And, it searches any of the localizations.  So, head to the website and choose your source.

I find that, at first blush, I get the best results from

As an example, I’ll choose something that I know will have lots of results.  For example purposes, I’ll choose something very broad like “Ontario”.  WikiMindMap returns the following:

Look at the results!  There are some very specific resource (wikipedia pages) that can be clicked upon for direct access to that page.  As you’d expect, the nodes with the + sign will expand to reveal even more related content.  It seems somehow appropriate that Government and Politics might be interesting…

More resources and nodes to expand!

The powerful part is that all these results fall from a single specific search.

For the student having difficulty zeroing in on a topic from the start, or as inspiration for areas that they may not have even thought about, I really like this tool.

It’s very illustrative of a searching mind or tactic.  Certainly, it’s not going to be the only place to search but it’s as good a tool as I’ve seen recently to help expand the original topic and then narrow in to specific results.

Give it a try to see if you don’t agree.