"The Pearl Project honors the truth through patient, meticulous, and accurate reporting."
Robert J. Ross
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Using WikiMedia, the software used to develop Wikipedia, we created a private, password-protected wiki that acts as a virtual filing cabinet for the information that students gather.
We call it a "Pearlpedia." It is easy to create using one of many publicly available Internet service providers that support WikiMedia software. We use Site Ground because it offers prompt technical support. On our wiki, we post classroom essentials, including our syllabus, class schedule, assignments and reading materials.
We use it like an electronic newsroom. Students create their own pages where they post sources, reporting strategies and story drafts. They create pages for each source and post contact information, questions, bios, articles and interview transcripts. While students develop one-on-one relationships with sources, they can all contribute their collective intellect to questions for the sources. We create a page with a chronology of the facts, and a page for all articles and documents related to the case. The Pearlpedia is an effective teaching tool because professors can edit student work and monitor student activity by examining the "history" of pages.
In addition to the Pearlpedia, students use the Google Groups listserv to share tips and breaking news with each other. To help solicit more sources, students established a tip line, made business cards and brochures, and created a Facebook account. Students learned to share sources, tips and ideas, teaching them how to work together in a newsroom.