Monday, February 18, 2008

Evaluating Wikipedia

I came across this video called Wikiality in a workshop I attended on teaching information literacy. It is a video by Stephen Colbert that can be used to point out that anyone can edit/change a Wikipedia article. Since then, I have been exploring the Library Instruction Wiki for ideas about how to approch Wikipedia. I found two contrasting activities:
  1. Wikipedia Exercise (create a wikipedia article for yourself to demonstrate how every can add to Wikipedia)
  2. Evaluating Scholarly Sources with Wikipedia (use a Wikipedia article as a starting point for a discussion of evaluating all sources - cites an article which argues that ALL sources should be evaluated and that it is just as easy to find an outdated book on the shelf in the library, as a Wikipedia article with unreliable information)
Then, last week, Bernie Sloan from Web4Lib listserv posted a link to an article arguing that we should teach students about the value of Wikipedia and teach them to examine the History and Discussion pages to understand how articles are created: Wikipedia and the New Curriculum Bernie Sloan goes on to mention that Wikipedia itself has an article on its flaws as a source for academic research: Academic Use of Wikipedia

In most classes, I don't have the chance to talk much about evaluating web sources, but when I do, I usually point out only the flaws of Wikipedia. How do you approach Wikipedia in library instruction? How should we present Wikipedia to our students? Are we doing students a disservice by focusing only on its flaws? Is understanding the strengths and weaknesses of Wikipedia an essential part of information literacy as knowledge is being created in new ways?

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post...hilarious video (I love S. Colbert!) and thought provoking questions. Usually when I get the opportunity in an instruction session to comment on wikipedia it's usually to say something like, "it can be a good place to start understanding a topic, gather sources for further research, but not something to cite in a paper."

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