Saturday, May 3, 2008

Wikipedia, Teaching Kids to Think

There has been a controversy brewing in the academic world about Wikipedia. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales sends a message that Wikipedia should not be used for serious research. So, should it be blocked in schools?

Wikipedia has been unblocked in our district and, because of teacher request, is now blocked. There was mixed reaction among the high school faculty. Most were relieved because students are now forced to go beyond a google or wikipedia search for content. Many were frustrated because wikipedia was a good place to get the gist of something. They also liked that primary sources were often linked as well.

So, is it better to block this tool? What happens if they still insist on using wikipedia as their "one stop shop" for research? Or... this this an opportunity to teach students how to verify information, or how to utilize Wikipedia as a springboard to primary sources? Food for thought.

For additional background information on Wikipedia I highly recommend Wikinomics.
The book focuses on the concept of collective intelligence. What do you think?


Anonymous said...

I am not in favor of blocking anymore than is already blocked by schools. How can we show students non-examples if they are blocked?
Wikipedia could also be used as an example of how many sources are pulled together to in a paper.

Brian Mitchell said...

Sounds like censorship. Wikipedia is a useful tool for students. Sure, its not good to depend on one thing... but I cant imagine not having access to Wikipedia! Besides, its one of the crown gems of the internet.