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Wikipedia Wars

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A school librarian in New Jersey, fearing poor student research habits, has started a "Just Say No to Wikipedia" campaign. Scott McLeod of Dangerously Irrevelant calls it "a bunch of hooey" and an injustice to students.

5 Comments

What a clever educator! This librarian wants to give students an authentic experience with censorship.

As much as I love and respect librarians, I must agree that blocking students access to Wikipedia runs counter to the "critical thinking" we claim we want our students to develop and use. Sadly, many of my teacher colleagues are insecure about their own media literacy skills, and so are hesitant to allow students to make maximum use of electronic resources. But McLeod is exactly right; we need to teach our students (and ourselves) to be more critical users of all forms of media and information.

This one of those instances when ignorance is not bliss. As long as the librarian allows students to use an encyclopedia, she need to let them use wikipedia. They are the same thing, except you can't edit the encyclopedia (you can, but it either doesn't look pretty or they charge you for a new edition).
If she doesn't allow them to use secondary sources, then let them use it to find the primary source.
I too think we need to let them know how to validate the information they found. Check the credibility of the sources.

Before two months ago I had never heard of Wikepedia. My college age children showed me and discussed with me all about Wikepedia. I agree with the Librarian that it does need to be censored becuase kids are using the web for reliable resources and you cannot be sure that Wikepidia has correct information.

I read some interesting info on using Wikipedia as a classroom assignment on another blog recently--i.e., having the kids as a class write the Wikipedia entry and submit it for approval. It seemed like a really good approach to learning both the research paper and the vagaries of Wikipedia.

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