Students should use Wikipedia...

Here's a posting from the BBC where Jimmy Wales said "teachers who refuse younger students access to the site are 'bad educators'." Now I agree that Wikipedia is a good starting point, but not sure that I would call teachers 'bad educators' because they dislike Wikipedia being cited in papers.


He wasn't talking teachers who dislike wikipedia citations, he was talking about teachers who 'refuse access to the site.'
That's much different, and is probably bad teaching, at least from my angle.

Wikipedia is not an authoratative source, nor is it a good starting point. Look at the entry for Godron Brown it says he is the Anti-Christ (someone may have changed it back by now).

There are authoratative sources and we as librarians should assist teachers in teaching their students how to discriminate between authoratative and non-authoratative sources. Wikipedia is fun, often correct, quite current, and many other things, but wholly authoratative it is not.

Do you want employees using Wikipedia for research for your business? Do you want your doctor looking there for information on your proposed treatment.

If an when there is a vetting of articles by established experts before publication Wikipedia will be authoratative. However the model on which it is based precludes that and thus precludes it from ever being authoratative by definition.

Yeah, someone just may have changed it back by now. Gordon Brown's Wikipedia entry has been edited 126 times in the past month since 11/17/07. Oh, and have a look at this while you're preparing to assist those teachers.

In the same light, I wonder what the reaction to Google Knols will be among educators. According to the initial description of the service, the articles will be by named authors with a surrounding infrastructure of social networking tools that allows for commentary on the article but doesn't allow the article to be changed. I've speculated about the possibility of Knols being more accepted in a blog entry comparing and contrasting Knol with Wikipedia and other similar services.

As wonderful as library resources are, they aren't nearly as accessible as I'm thinking of my own university's library catalogue (the collection is ranked among the top in the country), which I never have a great amount of success navigating through. I am of the Google generation, to be sure, but the nebulousness of most library catalogues is a challenge for even the most determined users. That frustration alone makes a much easier choice. I think if more libraries' systems teams would employ the technologies these kinds of "inferior" information services provide - wikipedia and Google among them - we'd begin seeing some media hype around libraries... Imagine.

Library Student you're right. Catalogs quite frankly suck. There are so many big name vendors that don't always consider the end user. One of the reasons catalogs can be bad is because those first cataloging software was created to make it easier for patrons than searching for five different cards in a card catalog (trust me its pretty bad). The problem is that as generations progressed the technology didn't always keep up with how people think. Librarians have realized this but it cost big bucks to switch to a system that works better. What you see is a catalog, but there is a whole operating system that keeps the library going.

However there is progress. Libraries have built open source systems that can be edited more easily than traditional. In addition, programmers and systems people in the libraries have begun experimenting with web 2.0 inside the catalog. And there is hype building up around them. The mainstream world may not have picked up on it, but trust me its there.

Last words of wisdom...ask a librarian, they can show you a few tricks to searching that catalog.

Robert Frost - "In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on."

The penguins are coming,

Blake says, "not sure that I would call teachers 'bad educators' because they dislike Wikipedia being cited in papers." I do not think that is the objection, or the only objection. I think the objection is that Wikipedia is a frequent target of vandalism. A child could go to a Wiki page about roses and see instead full on p-rn. Sure, vandalism gets removed, but the child gets s-xualized if the conditions are just right, or wrong, depending on how you look at it. My kid was instructed not to use Wikipedia by the school. But with me present at home, Wikipedia is an excellent resource, particularly as a starting point. Indeed I am an editor on Wikipedia. I just train my kid that what's on Wikipedia should be taken with a grain of salt, but usually the information is very good. I am happy the teacher restricts their access to Wikipedia in public schools where supervision is necessarily less watchful due to the number of children being supervised. Learning about p-rn on a Wiki page for roses is not my idea of a public education.