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Posts Tagged ‘wikipedia

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Part 5 of the Crash Course series on digital literacy focused on using Wikipedia.

Host John Green pointed out that Wikipedia was almost 18-years-old, and as it matured, was behaving more like a responsible adult.

Wikipedia has long policed itself with three guiding principles for editing articles:

  1. Content should be represented from a neutral point of view
  2. Cired research should come from published and reliable sources
  3. Readers and editors should be able to verify the sources of information

Despite these operating principles and research about the accuracy of Wikipedia [example], some still wrongly dissuade others from using it.

Green recommended that Wikipedia might be relied on for breadth of information and links for fact-checkin: Use it like “a launch pad, not a finish line”.

The depth of research and fact-checking could come from the hyperlinks from Wikipedia to other resources. One caveat: Resources are never perfect or objective because a) they were made by imperfect people, and b) they are used by imperfect people.

Wikipedia is not the problem; we and how we use it are.

I received this screenshot of what seemed to be an unintentionally funny description of a local university.

From ambit to armpit.

I asked the sender where is was from, but that question drew a blank. Bonus pre-lesson: Seek the source.

I applied that lesson by searching for SUSS and a segment of the description. This led me to the Wikipedia article on Education in Singapore.

The segment currently reads:

In 2017, Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) was declared as the country’s sixth autonomous public university. The university was previously established in 2005 as SIM University by the SIM Group. Thereafter it undergone restructuring and is currently under the ambit of the Ministry of Education.

It is still not grammatically sound, but there is no more armpit. The description is less whimsical with ambit.

If you examine the history of the document, you will find an editing battle. The original word was ambit. It was changed to armpit in May 2018. It was not until June that armpit was reverted to ambit.

Here is the bad news: Teachers were responsible for passing the armpit edit along. While it was good for a laugh, it revealed a lack of digital literacy.

The good news is this lesson: You can learn how to check the history of an online document like a wiki page. In the case of Wikipedia, you need only look for the “View history” link (currently at the top of each page).

Bonus lesson: Do not use words like “ambit” that tempt pranksters to change them to “armpit”. Both words work — one is descriptive and the other is hilarious.

Earlier this week, The Verge was one of many news sources to report that YouTube was going to link conspiracy theory videos to Wikipedia content as a fact checking measure.

Wikipedia confirmed in an official statement that YouTube did not tell Wikipedia about this move. This led at least one observer to remark “relying on the free labor of others is precisely how this whole game works”.

My observation is that this is just like how journals rely on university faculty to write articles for free, get other faculty to review them for free, then sell the published articles back to both sets on universities for exorbitant fees.

Why on earth do some of the smartest people on earth allow this to happen? Inertia. If schools move like molasses, universities progress like glaciers.

However, there is hope. Not only are open journals part of the Open Educational Resources movement, some academics are kicking back, as they should!

If you give away your work openly for free, then that is being generous. If someone else makes money off your efforts, then they are unethical. If you keep letting that happen, then that is being stupid.

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When I was researching statistics on Wikipedia last year for my book chapter on wikis, there were 10 million articles on Wikipedia in 260 languages. Today, there are 15 million articles in 270 languages. All thanks to these “weird” and wonderful Wikipedians!

It is creating, critiquing, connecting and collaborating at its best! So enjoy this tongue-in-cheek look at Wikipedians from an insider.

Microsoft Encarta Officially Succumbs to Wikipedia. Is this an April Fools’ joke?

If not, then I say it is about time! Power to the people and user-generated content!

If so, I think that it will happen eventually because it is simply a sign of the way people prefer to learn now. BTW, Karl Kapp had a few interesting thoughts on how information was locked up in LMS (Learning Management Systems) and compared this to the music industry.

How could I not blog about something that three Tweeters I am following mentioned?

If you visited The Guardian, you might have come across this headline: Pupils to study Twitter and blogs in primary schools shake-up. Of course the headline was sensationalistic, but it was quite accurate too.

I think that the bottom line was not so much that primary school kids in the UK might embrace more technology in school. The fact is that they will be using more RELEVANT technologies in their schools. This will force teachers to update their pedagogies because if they don’t they will soon discover that old methods do not necessarily allow new or better forms of learning to take place.

And of course various stakeholders feel threatened. There’s not enough coverage of history or the learning of drama for example. But at the end of the day we should not be looking at what is important to us in the short term, but what is important to the kids for the long term. We should be preparing them for their future, not our past.

Am I going to wait for the Singapore educational system to play catch up? Obviously not. I am preparing preservice teachers under my care to think and teach progressively. Time will tell if I am right.

According to Tech Yahoo! an organisation known as the Stanton Foundation is giving Wikipedia money to “create ways to make it easier for people to add their knowledge” to the online encyclopedia.

The purpose of the grant is to encourage people who are less tech-centric but knowledgeable in their fields to contribute to the shared pool of information.

The grant will fund a team at the Wikimedia offices in San Francisco. Team members are to pinpoint what commonly prevents people from making Wikipedia entries and then eliminate those obstacles.

Are wikis that difficult to edit? I doubt that the resistance to edit is solely or largely due to technical inability. It’s got more to do with mindsets, expectations, personal philosophies on how people learn, and egos.

No amount of money is going to make a difference if they don’t try to address those issues. Maybe no amount of money can address those issues!

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