Seven Things about Wikipedia

What more do you need to know about Wikipedia? It’s the sometimes controversial online encyclopedia of the people, and its content dwarfs that of conventional encyclopedias. What we also know is that college students all too often rely on Wikipedia entries without fully evaluating the accuracy of the content. Then perhaps there is something new to learn – how to leverage Wikipedia as an instructional technology to better equip students to read and gather information with a critical eye. To help educators and librarians to better understand the issues related to the use of Wikipedia by students, EDUCAUSE has focused the latest addition to the “Seven Things You Should Know” series on Wikipedia (pdf). The series introduces web and learning technologies and identifies how they might be best used for better pedagogy. The new Wikipedia document identifies how it can be used in this way:

In higher education, wikis have been put to use in courses ranging from humanities to science to business. With Wikipedia, students can take part in a collaborative process of creating and revising content in a global context, moving the opportunities for learning beyond the walls of the classroom or the university. An important part of academic training is seeing how knowledge is created and understanding that it is dynamic, evolving over time based on the contributions of many individuals.

Rather than banning the use of Wikipedia, faculty and librarians are working together to develop creative assignments and research exercises that engage students in the information creation process by having them create or edit Wikipedia pages. Through these learning experiences students come to understand that anyone can add to or edit Wikipedia and what the consequences are for those who base important decisions on this information. Faculty who would like to further explore how Wikipedia can be used to help students become more effective researchers should contact their Temple University Libraries subject specialist to begin the discussion. –Steven Bell

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