Tuesday, April 20, 2010

LIBRARY TECHNOLOGY CONFERENCE, PART 3: Wikipedia: The Educator's Friend (!)

Wikipedia can be an excellent springboard for learning lessons about research and the nature of authority.

Benefits of Wikipedia:

  • Free

  • More articles than Encyclopedia Britannica

  • Up to date--good source for breaking news

  • Accessible

  • Each page contains a history of all changes

  • Usually at or near the top of any Google search

Wikipedia is anti-expert. 50 % of doctors have used it in their work. It is the source most cited by bloggers. Andrew Lih (Wikipedia Revolution) calls it "The best place to start and the worst to stop."

Core policies of Wikipedia:

  • Neutral point of view

  • No original research

  • Verifiability (can cite database or print sources, the source might not be available for free online)

Each article has references at the bottom--librarians can look for them in Google Books, databases, or catalogs and find more material by clicking on the subject headings that come up.

Advantages of databases/catalogs:

  • Authors are experts

  • Well-written

  • Rhetorical skills instead of flames

If students contribute to Wikipedia, they can learn critical thinking.

Handouts are available here.

--Andrea @Central

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