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Showing posts from September, 2009

Why Teachers Should Require Students to Use Wikipedia

I've always been a fan of Wikipedia, and often I'm happy to see a Wikipedia entry as my top search result. As a math teacher, I never had many opportunities to direct students in the ways of research, including how to choose appropriate sources. Several of my colleagues who do teach research, however, not only discouraged Wikipedia use, but banned it outright. Why? The most common answer: "Because anybody can edit Wikipedia, students won't know if the information is true." It wasn't until tonight that I saw how shortsighted this reasoning really is, and how it gives students wrong ideas about research.
Let's assume we not only encourage, but require students to use Wikipedia. If a student only finds factual information, then we've preserved the status quo, and nothing really changes. But what if the student finds a mistake? (Or, more likely, you find it for them.) This isn't a crisis, this is an opportunity! First, students see this as a …