wiki’s – devil in disguise???

I have come across a lot of debate about the reliability of using wiki’s as sources and whether students should be allowed to use them for assignments. There seems to be a broad range of ideas from across the educational sector in regards to wiki’s from those who encourage it to those who penalise students using it.

I stumbled across this podcast from a conference that has the founder of wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, talking about his views on its reliability and how it should be used within education. He makes some interesting points including that wikipedia (average of 4 mistakes per article) is close to encyclopedia Brittanica (3 mistakes per article) in regards to number of errors per article. (He does talk about the research behind this briefly). I think he actually presents quite a balanced view overall and does highlight the shortcomings of wiki’s. Well worth a listen.

I think an important thing for students to be aware of is that with any source of information we need to be critical in reading the information and look for inaccuracies or biases that may exist. These will exist in wikipedia as they do in just about every other form of media and information source. I think this is one of the key skills our 21st century learners will need to learn as the amount of information and their access to it expands rapidly.

For the full podcast click here. (I found section 8 and 11a particularly interesting).



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