» Students and Wikipedia post from Educational Origami

Wikipedia’s been getting a lot of press lately. Positive press. It’s actually a great opportunity to bring in those skills we are trying to develop in all our students: evaluate and corroborate information before you accept it as your own (or as simply valid or true or complete) and do this by using other types of information sources like newspapers, books, journal articles, etc. A healthy skepticism — where did you get that data??– is critical in a world of so much information at every turn.

Here’s an interesting post:

» Students and Wikipedia

Speaking directly to educators, the poster explains:

So what should we do.

  • We should teach our students to validate their information sources. Not to accept it as fact until its validated by a number of reputable information sources.
  • We should accept that wikipedia is a useful and powerful source that is often more up to date than traditional sources by its very nature and design. But also accept the limitations inherent in its design that mean there is potential for abuse
  • Encourage our students to move beyond just wikipedia and googling as a the only information source and look at other sources including:
    • Journals
    • Newspapers
    • libraries
    • Books, Textbooks
    • encyclopedias
    • Television and streamed media
    • Blogs
    • email
    • Primary information sources like interviewing experts

Lets not be blinded either way by wikipedia, but accept it warts and all, but teach our students what we must teach them, to VALIDATE their information sources.

Think of the possibilities. Challenge your students to use lots of information sources AND to verify their information. Leave the proof to the student. Now that’s engaging them.

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2 Responses

  1. Wikipedia has gotten a lot of positive press lately? You must be living on another planet:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2007/dec/06/wikipedia?gusrc=rss&feed=technology
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/12/04/wikipedia_secret_mailing/
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/12/06/wikipedia_and_overstock/

    If there has ever been a moment to realize that Wikipedia should never ever, under no circumstances be used in an educational environment, then it is now.

  2. Wikipedia is a very large player on the Web. It’s usually the first item that appears in a Google search (and I’m not saying Google is the be all and end all search engine so don’t mistake that). We can’t ignore the elephant in the room or if we do, it’s is totally to our disadvantage. We need to play along. There is a saying, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” I’m saying Wikipedia gives us lots to use in teaching information literacy to students. It’s our loss not to.

    Study: Wikipedia as accurate as Britannica | CNET News.com http://www.news.com/2100-1038_3-5997332.html

    “For its study, Nature chose articles from both sites in a wide range of topics and sent them to what it called “relevant” field experts for peer review. The experts then compared the competing articles–one from each site on a given topic–side by side, but were not told which article came from which site. Nature got back 42 usable reviews from its field of experts.

    In the end, the journal found just eight serious errors, such as general misunderstandings of vital concepts, in the articles. Of those, four came from each site. They did, however, discover a series of factual errors, omissions or misleading statements. All told, Wikipedia had 162 such problems, while Britannica had 123.

    That averages out to 2.92 mistakes per article for Britannica and 3.86 for Wikipedia.

    “An expert-led investigation carried out by Nature–the first to use peer review to compare Wikipedia and Britannica’s coverage of science,” the journal wrote, “suggests that such high-profile examples (like the Seigenthaler and Curry situations) are the exception rather than the rule.””

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