Thursday, August 20, 2009
Wikipedia - Appropriate in Education??
Wikipedia is one technology application I have never really investigated. This is probably due to the fact that from the very first day of university, the lecturers seemed intent on reminding the group that Wikipedia is not a scholarly source of information and therefore should not be used in our assignments. Today I explored Wikipedia properly for the first time, and I have got to say, I am amazed at the amount of content that is available on the site. Wikipedia is the largest online collaborative encyclopaedia in the world, and its database is increasing all the time (Wikipedia, 2009). Siemens’ Connectivism Theory (2004) explains that the cycle of knowledge development allows learners to remain current in their field through connections being made. Wikipedia directly relates to this theory as it allows anyone to edit and add appropriate information to a particular topic and therefore builds on the connections being made. Although this technology is constantly monitored by administrators, the open nature of this technology makes it vulnerable to vandals, who are able to place incorrect or unsubstantiated information on a particular topics page. Because of this, Wikipedia can not guarantee the accuracy of the information provided and therefore the information within it cannot be used or relied upon.
Whilst conducting my search on Wikipedia about food chains, my mind was working overtime about how this technology could be used safely and advantageously in the classroom. Because of the extensive array of knowledge that could be located on this site, and the inappropriateness of some of this content, I can really see no other way of using this technology other than conducting a full class session. Ideally I would like to be able to give groups of students a section of the food chain to research (producer) and let them experiment with this website, however unless there is some safety feature that I am unaware of I do not see how Wikipedia can be used without absolute supervision.
Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A learning theory for the Digital Age. Citing computer references. Retrieved August 18, 2009, from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivesm.htm
Wikipedia. (2009). About Wikipedia.Citing computer references. Retrieved August 18, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia