Wikipedia is a state-of-the-art and efficient free on-line encyclopaedia that is being updated on a daily bases. As it is one of the world’s biggest Wikis, anyone who has opened an account with Wikipedia has the authority to change, update and create the information being displayed on almost any screen. This brings a large diversity of knowledge, understanding and experience to one site. As professionals from any industry discovery new information or experiences they can immediately bring the world updates through this technology tool. Recently when Michael Jackson past away, podcast host, Dr. Kathy King and Mark Gura (2009) identified how advanced Wikipedia is compared to the television news. They stated, “the Michael Jackson entry into Wikipedia...has [had] the highest traffic within a day of this showing up on Wikipedia, it is the highest traffic in the eight years history of Wikipedia...Over a million hits almost as soon as this hit the news (King, & Gura, 2009). They also identified that “information on the TV has been incorrect while information on the web is more accrete and more up to date” (King, & Gura, 2009). This fast and effective tool is showing to be more effective then news reporters that I would generally stereotype as the most current source of information. This tool is showing to be an efficient resource that could be greatly used in any classroom, but unfortunately Wikipedia does not hold all creditable information.
Wikipedia’s advanced technology is a pedagogy tool that can be effectively used in any classroom context. But without explicit teaching and scaffolding this tool can be a source of incorrect and unauthorised content. If all members of Wikipedia, both professionals and amateurs, have the ability to update and create new ‘pages’, the content has an aspect of unreliable authority. As a Learning Manager it is my responsibility to scaffold learners understanding and practice so they may decipher whether a website is an authority source or not. The learners will need to know and understand the characteristics that identify reliable sources before they use its knowledge in group and individual research tasks, and assessment.
My year one class is studying ecosystems at this present time and to help me understand this concept better I did a Wikipedia search on ecosystems. This is the type of content that was found:
- 1 Overview
- 2 Examples of ecosystems
- 3 Biomes
- 4 Ecosystem topics
- 5 The study of ecosystems
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 Further reading
9 External links (Wikipedia, 2009, p.1)
With so much direct and specific information, this would be a great resource if it is authoritive. When studying different pages of Wikipedia I came to understand that all the information is not all together unreliable. Instead if it is a creditable source, it will be referenced with links to the original authoritive source. With this understanding, I can create activities around research that my learners must first seek out on Wikipedia and then through the Dimensions of Learning phase in Using Knowledge Meaningfully (Marzano, et al. 1997), the learners can compare and sort the information from Wikipedia and the original source to identify what is true and what is someone’s personal belief.
Just a thought, I information is so much more assessable than ever before, then shouldn’t we as Learning Managers and as a body of professionals, be teaching our learners who to correctly reference an authoritive source? When I was in primary school I do not remember referencing or been taught how to reference until high school. A lot has changed since then, but from what I have seen, the younger grades are not required to reference, is this right? It would be good to start a conversation around this, because when times change I believe as Learning Managers we also need to change what we are teaching to help our learners become successful in education and life.
Until my next learning experience
King, K., & Gura, M. (2009). Teachers podcast: Eposide 43, Pt 2 of Science and Social Media. Accessed July 25, 2009, from: www.teacherspodcast.org
Marzano, R., Pickering, D., Arredondo, D., Blackburn, G., Brandt, R., Moffett, C., Paynter, D., Pollock, J., & Whisler, J. (1997). Dimensions of Learning: Teacher’s Manual (2nd ed.). Aurora, Calorado: McREL (Mid-continent Regional Educational Laboratory).
Wikipedia. (2009). Ecosystems. Accessed July 31, 2009, from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecosystems