A Stand Against Wikipedia

Inside Higher Ed has posted a story, primarily dealing with how some post secondary institutions are handling students using Wikipedia for academic research.

Quote: As Wikipedia has become more and more popular with students, some professors have become increasingly concerned about the online, reader-produced encyclopedia. While plenty of professors have complained about the lack of accuracy or completeness of entries, and some have discouraged or tried to bar students from using it, the history department at Middlebury College is trying to take a stronger, collective stand. It voted this month to bar students from citing the Web site as a source in papers or other academic work. All faculty members will be telling students about the policy and explaining why material on Wikipedia — while convenient — may not be trustworthy.

While Wikipedia has its value, it can lead students to ‘real’ sources of information,  I would agree that it’s generally not acceptable to cite as a sole piece of research material, at any grade level.

This is a wonderful opportunity to use this as a springboard for critical literacy. What better place to start questioning assumptions? We could then move to modeling and guiding detecting bias from a source assumed to be ‘authoritative’. Follow this up with analyzing the context and then seek an alternative point of view or source of information and we’re on our way to helping or students become true critical learners.

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Blogging in the Classroom

It’s all about asking the right question. Terry Freedman notes that it’s not whether blogging will improve student writing, but will blogging benefit the student more than any other form of writing, or will this be perceived as just another add on? One of the aspects of blogging that makes it different from other forms of writing is that students get to respond to the writing of others as well as see responses to their own posts. This will only benefit the students who are use to this form of self-expression. If this is not part of the culture of the classroom or the school then blogging becomes simply an electronic response, nothing more. With the proper support network in place students should be able to flourish in the Web 2.0 environment of blogging, wiki’s and podcasts. When trying to develop the students’ voice, say through the 6+1 Traits model, we want to encourage the students’ feelings and convictions to come out through his or her words. In the right climate blogging would seem to me to be the right tool to meet this learning outcome.

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