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Jim, I have worked in international schools in two countries for the last 8 years as a tech integration specialist and 12 years before that in Australian private schools and have used wikipedia across all grade levels K-12. It is a fantastic place to start researching from as invariably there are useful links at the bottom of each article for students to continue researching from, and with regard to researching I extol the "verify with 3" mantra. Whatever site you are looking at, find the same information in 3 credible sites before you decide to use it. I have to admit that I was astounded to hear that such a useful site for both information and process (my excitement relates to the process aspect of it, agreeing with Jeff) was filtered. Interestingly, yesterday morning's blog scan led me to a recent Alan November blog post ( http://novemberlearning.com/video-students-building-legacy-with-wikipedia/) that sums up the value of the site (for me anyway!) perfectly. It is a shame that your students are prevented from participating in such a real-world, inspiring project. Bruce Knox Tech Integration Specialist KAUST Schools Saudi Arabia http://www.brucetutes.com/blog > Jim: > In my way of thinking, you seem to be a little turned around on a > couple of points in your posting below. > > 1) "..willing to accept Wikipedia..." as what? As a first rate example of > what things happen (and, arguably, what things can be accomplished) when a > bunch of strangers decide to work together without hope of profit or fame? > You betcha! As an impeckable source of information? Perhaps not so much, > though it does surprisingly well even so. But as I've mentioned, it makes > for a really good place to practice critical thinking and content analysis. > No source should be accepted without such, and a flawed one with so much > organized content and popularity just can't be beat for that purpose. > > 2) A platform which supports knowledge construction? I really cannot think > of a better one. But, yes, you're right, we're now talking about the > technology (a platform or vehicle through which people can construct > knowledge). Wikis are potentially powerful knowledge construction tools. > Wikipedia just happens to be the most popular wiki (which, again, has its > advantages). But your remark, "...Consensus of anyone, regardless of > education, does not make for useful information for knowledge > construction..." seriously misses the point. A good Wikipedia article pulls > "useful information" (in the form of citations) from elsewhere, and the > article itself serves the purpose of supporting the construction of > knowledge within it. > > Your mistake is to look at Wikipedia content solely through the eyes > of a researcher. Yes, you should do that, but what's powerful about > Wikipedia is that it isn't just content, it is process. It can, at its best, > cause hundreds of people to, from their perch within a single Wikipedia > article, turn around and look at the rest of the Internet, and all other > knowledge sources, through the eyes of a researcher. That's what's powerful > about the process of constructing knowledge -- not the veracity of a single > source of information in that process. > We're so used to encyclopedias and textbooks being static, fixed, > verifiable and unassailable information sources that we forget that much of > the information they actually contain is NOT static, fixed, often not even > verifiable, and almost never unassailable. So the expectation isn't that a > reference resource should have those qualities, but in what amounts must > they be present for the information to be useful. Wikipedia is simply > embracing that idea, and forcing us to be transparent and collaborative in > its pursuit. Frankly, I'm a big fan. > Jeff > > On Tue, 6 Apr 2010, Jim Beal wrote: > > It is interesting that so many people are willing to accept Wikipedia. By >> its own admission: >> >> " Users should be aware that not all articles are of encyclopedic quality >> from the start: they may contain false or debatable information. Indeed, >> many articles start their lives as displaying a single viewpoint; and, after >> a long process of discussion, debate, and argument, they gradually take on a >> neutral point of view reached through consensus." >> >> Further: >> >> "Allowing anyone to edit Wikipedia means that it is more easily vandalized >> or susceptible to unchecked information.." >> >> So, at any given time, any article could be wholly inaccurate or false. >> >> >> Consensus of anyone, regardless of education, does not make for useful >> information for knowledge construction. If this is indeed valuable, then we >> can dispense with peer review journals. In fact, we can dispense with all >> research and education in general, since all we have to do is let people >> post information and come to a consensus on it. >> >> Being a technology discussion group, I think sometimes we get blinded by >> the technology. >> >> I think we need to educate students about Wikipedia and other web 2.0 >> technologies, but not have them use them for research. >> >> Last, I am wondering which grade levels people are using Wikipedia in. >> Certainly not high school level, which should be looking beyond simple >> encyclopedia articles. Probably lower and middle and elementary school >> students. >> >> >> James W. Beal, Ed.D. >> Director of Technology >> Somonauk Community Unit School District #432 >> >> ---------------------------------------------- >> Education is not what you think you have learned. >> It is how you have learned to think. >> -- "Give a small boy a hammer and he will find that everything he encounters needs pounding." 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