Sunday, August 11, 2013

Chapter 3- Wikipedia

Chapter 3: The Overhyped Dangers of Wikipedia (Marcovitz, ISTE, 2012)

Critical Information Literacy
Digital Connections in the Classroom(Marcovitz, ISTE, 2012)
"A first step in critical information literacy is to understand that any given source is fallible" (Kindle location 1000 of 4336). 

I loved the title of this chapter. So many times I have heard my students say that they cannot use Wikipedia as a source for research and information. When I question them on why, they just say that they had a teacher somewhere along their schooling that told them to never use it. Who tells that to kids anyways and actually expects that they will heed your advice? Just because a student does cite Wikipedia as a resource, doesn't mean that that's not where they started their research. I agree with Marcovitz that the dangers of using Wikipedia are over told to students instead of telling/teaching them how to use Wikipedia appropriately. 

I liked that he compared the use of Wikipedia to the use of Encyclopedia Britannica, they are both a great starting point for when you don't have any background information and sometimes a good source of other relevant links/resources.   

The ideas that Andy Carvin suggested for verify the content of Wikipedia is a great idea and having student approved pages as well as the other exercises suggested about researching the content of Wikipedia pages and verifying/editing the information. What a great way to get the students involved with the information and teach them research skills. This would be a great follow up activity to the website quality checks described in Chapter 2. 


  1. Why can't they use the 3 sources concept? As long as each source corroborates the other 2. Why does it matter? And why not different forms of sources..

  2. I am glad Marcovitz included this in his book. You should be verifying any source you use, whether it be wikipedia or any other online resource. I thought it was interesting how many errors Britanica, a source that many think is the best resource. I think it is important to change people's thinking about wikipedia. We should teach research skills, not simply say you cannot use Wikipedia as a source.

    I agree with Keith- I like the 3 source concept (and really explain to students the purpose of using 3 sources!)

    1. When I was a Librarian I would have teachers send students down for research telling them they had to use an Encyclopedia, Magazine, Newspaper.... sad part is they WOULDN'T let them us an internet based one (or one on their laptop which was more updated then my ancient sources in the Library) the teacher didn't understand these sources could be internet based.

      * I would say making them use 1 source that was PHYSICAL they had to be able to hold and show did make them look.

  3. I think this chapter is great for those who preach "Don't use Wikipedia". Personally, I remember going to Wikipedia a number of times and using that as a place to start my search. Certainly, as it was said, it wasn't my only source, but I did refer to it. Often I would scroll down to the resources section and check out some of those links. I suppose that in the end, Wikipedia is similar to any website - you can't just assume the information you're reading is the truth.

    1. I had students actually post on Wiki.... about their towns. Since usually nothing in it for such small Maine time.