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Everybody Do the Wiki!

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This month, both the NEA publication, NEA Today and the AFT magazine, American Teacher, feature articles on Wikis and Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that anyone can edit. The NEA article provides an in-depth look at Wikipedia, which strives to be a free, online reference allowing anyone to create entries—thus, says NEA Today, opening the medium for mistakes and vandals who intentionally post incorrect information. The AFT item presents the views of two teachers: one who views Wikipedia and Wikis in general (which students can create themselves) as a valuable learning tool, and another who says the use of Wikis by students promotes laziness and sloppy research. Also, take a look at Education Week’s April 2006 story on Wikis.

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My son, who has been unschooled since age 14, uses Wikipedia to look things up when curiosity strikes him. The other day he was curious about Africa, so he brought up a map of the continent on the internet and then proceeded to read Wikipedia articles on all of the countries.

Yes, there is the potential for articles on Wikipedia to be incorrect, but I understand there is a large cadre of Wikipedia supporters who monitor and maintain the articles veracity. Also, if you were interested in Africa and walked into a room full of educated people to ask what they knew, wouldn't you also maybe get a few comments that might not be fully true?

In all seeking of knowledge you have to learn to parse what you are given and corroborate to find the truth.

- Coop

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