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Hi, My name is Gwyneth and I use Wikipedia every day.

There, I said it. Somehow that's pretty freeing! Wikipedia is NOT a dirty word. We're doing a disservice not teaching our kids HOW to use it and how to cite it...as in - ummm selectively & with forethought. Sadly, I don't believe teachers & college professors are ready to wrap their mind around or admit recent studies that show: Wikipedia as accurate as Britannica.

Much like the Internets in general, (or the Googles, or the Facebooks, or the Twitters, or the YouTubes) many educators look upon Wikipedia with suspicion, sometimes derision, and occasionally with fear.

But who are we kidding? It ain't goin away folks! the Wikipedias are here to stay...It's an Internet Wonder of the World! And for gosh sakes, it comes up top 3 in just about any Google search you do. What? Ignore a good entry for a query? Really? Can you admit, you use it, too?

So....How do we teach kids to use it?

Teaching Wikipedia in 5 Easy Steps.

  1. Use it as background information
  2. Use it for technology terms
  3. Use it for current pop cultural literacy
  4. Use it for the Keywords
  5. Use it for the REFERENCES at the bottom of the page!

Tech Terms Here: I mean, I love me my research databases! I do! Heck, I even made a animation video for them! I love you Gale/Cengage, Sirs, Worldbook, and EBSCO - I do! But if I look up Hashtag or QR code there, all I get are a few articles (one by Chris Harris! YAY!) but no explanation. No definiton. No examples of real world use. That's just not good enough.

But when you look up Hashtags or QR code in Wikipedia you get it ALL!

For more examples of how to use Wikipedia & how to teach it with our kids, see the Further Reading links below

Click for a Teaching Wikipedia At-A-Glance Comic Tutorial! (working on that now)

Oh and By the by...this blog caused me to work. Yeah, like do something I've never done before and it hurt a little. Learning something new sometimes feels ouchy and uncomfortable. Because of this posting I created a Wikipedia editing profile and pushed myself to create a Wikipedia page for my school Murray Hill Middle School because I wanted to be there when my kids (or parents) look for us on the Howard County Public School wikipage. Another step forward in Web Presence and Advocacy - & yes, Socialnomics: be where your customers are. But, I got stubborn and pushed through the uncomfortable feeling (took a break to have dinner Buffy Hamilton & Mary Beth) and Voila! It's done...whew!

"The goal here is not to take Wikipedia as gospel but to use it to focus your research (via links, keywords and references) and get a little context (via background information). Focusing cuts down the time you spend on the project while context will get you a better grade for your effort." - by rebecca from Gear Fire
Further Reading:
Should I use or cite Wikipedia? Probably not.

4 ways to use Wikipedia (hint: never cite it)

Teachers: Please stop prohibiting the use of Wikipedia

Unnatural acts at Nature

20 Little Known Ways to Use Wikipedia

Study: Wikipedia as accurate as Britannica

Rosenzweig, Roy. "Can history be open source? Wikipedia and the future of the past" Journal of American History, Volume 93, Issue 1 (June 2006) p. 117-144.

Schiff, Stacy. "Know it all: Can Wikipedia conquer expertise?" The New Yorker, February 26, 2006 And for balance:

Yes, students, there's a world beyond Wikipedia - via Lucy Gray - elemenous !

What about YOU!?


Photo credits: Flickr Creative Commons:
Guy Fawks: by Stian Eikeland
Workbench mele By flattop341




Wikipedia Is NOT Wicked!
authenticity, Buffy J. Hamilton, fun, gale, howard county schools, Jimbo Wales, murray hill middle school, sirs, socialnomics, wicked, wikipedia

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