The Wikipedia Debate

The Daring Librarian, otherwise known as Gwyneth Anne Jones, who works as a teacher-librarian  and writes The Daring Librarian blog, on which this post appeared. She is also on the board of directors of the International Society for Technology in Education.

The link to the Nature magazine article can be found below as well – as referred to in the latest Ratpack article on Wikis (Webmac Part 2 in Vol 16.3)

The Daring Librarian:

Wikipedia is Not Wicked!

My name is Gwyneth and I use Wikipedia every day.
There, I said it. Somehow that’s pretty freeing! Wikipedia is NOT a dirty word.

We’re doing a disservice by not teaching our kids HOW to use it and how to cite it selectively and with forethought. Sadly, I don’t believe teachers and college professors are ready to wrap their mind around or admit a study by Nature magazine that showed Wikipedia to be only somewhat less accurate than Encyclopedia Britannica on selected topics. Much like the Internet in general, many educators look upon Wikipedia with suspicion, sometimes derision, and occasionally, with fear.

But who are we kidding? It isn’t going away, folks! Wikipedia is here to stay… It’s an Internet Wonder of the World! And for gosh sakes, it comes up in the top three of just about any Google search you do.

What? Ignore a good entry for a query? Really? Can you admit that you use it, too?  So how do we teach kids to use it?

Teaching Wikipedia in 5 Easy Steps:

  • Use it as background information
  • Use it for technology terms
  • Use it for current pop cultural literacy
  • Use it for the Keywords
  • Use it for the REFERENCES at the bottom of the page

(Source : Adapted from “Committed Sardine” blog of the 21st Century Fluency project.)

NOTE:  Remember that Wikipedia is not a research cure-all, but rather a useful supporting resource.  Proper research is done by consulting and comparing multiple sources and looking at them with a critical and analytical mindset …

Do your students use Wikipedia?Do you ban them from doing so? Please share your own views on this – its a hot topic for debate!

Categories: Web Watch

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