Despite its occasional weaknesses, I really like Wikipedia. Others (perhaps unnecessarily) worry about an encyclopedia that is editable by anyone. Whether you like it or not, however, it is undeniably the tertiary source of first resort for most of the planet.
One of the things that has always bothered me about it, though, is the generally poor coverage of issues related to intelligence. From intelligence history to intelligence theory, Wikipedia, in my opinion, needs help.
That is why, instead of traditional writing assignments in some of my classes, I like to task students to write Wikipedia articles about intelligence issues that have not already been covered.
This kind of assignment has a variety of educational benefits. In addition to adding to the world's body of knowledge, the students have to learn how to use MediaWiki (the same platform that powers Intellipedia and many other wikis in the in the private sector).
They also have to learn how to write an encyclopedia article complete with Wikipedia's famous "Neutral Point Of View" - a skill that is enormously useful in intel writing as well.
Finally, they have to expose their work to the varied and critical audience that makes up the ad hoc Wikipedia editorial staff. This is more important to the learning process than you might think. Students typically master the skill of gaming their professors pretty quickly. Writing for an army of discerning, anonymous editors? Not so much.
So, without further ado, here are a handful of articles recently produced by students in my Collection Operations for Intelligence Analysts class. The mix is eclectic because I let the students pick their own topics but is, perhaps, more interesting as a result.
- HUMINT/CI Exploitation Teams
- Michael Soussoudis
- Gang Intelligence Units
- Nimitz Operational Intelligence Center
- Information Board (Estonia)