Wikipedia is a free online multilingual encyclopedia. Its name Wikipedia is simply derived from the words wiki (The Hawaiian term for quick) and encyclopedia. Articles inside Wikipedia have been collaboratively written by volunteers around the world who only require access to the Internet (Wikipedia, 2009). Wikipedia is a useful and effective collaborative learning tool that could be used as an excellent starting point for students in upper primary for researching information quickly.
I was always taught at school and university to never use Wikipedia as a scholarly reference. This most likely is because it can be accused of inaccurate or inconsistent information due to the ability of constant alterations by any person anywhere in the world (Wikipedia, 2009). This can suggest that scholarly information could easily have been tampered or vandalised with creating non scholarly sources.
Prensky (2006) suggests that teachers are faced with the concern that many students are using Wikipedia as their only source of data, while conducting research. After discussing with friends and colleagues I felt that to use Wikipedia effectively and safely within the classroom I would need to carefully scaffold students’ understandings through class discussions about the issues of the well known online encyclopedia. I would make it very clear that students cannot use it as a scholarly reference, due to the constant alterations and susceptibility to vandalism but to use Wikipedia as a constructive platform to find information for specific set tasks.
Wikipedia is a great encyclopedia of the twenty first century for finding information. Throughout my investigation of the site I found another fantastic tool that I can incorporate into the classroom especially for my prep class that I am currently in. It is called Wikibooks, created and edited from the Wikimedia community is just like an online library that allows you access to a variety of books (Wikibooks, 2009). Wikijunior is my favourite, it is a fantastic place to find online children’s books that have been written by a community of teachers and enthusiastic writers (Wikibooks, 2009). A great idea that a friend had shared with me is the idea of creating a class online book, this can be easily published to the site for the world to see, ensuring all references and safety precautions are appropriately catered for. This site is great as I am always looking for something that my prep class could enjoy.
I feel that the use of this tool can be viewed through a connectivist perspective (Siemens, 2005). As this theory has been developed specifically for the digital era, focusing on decisions made based upon the continual acquisition of knowledge (Siemens, 2005). Accurate and current knowledge is one of the key principles of connectivism, which may be found with the use of technology. Therefore our role as learning managers must ensure that if we permit this learning tool within the classroom students must be taught the necessary skills of how to analyse between important and unnecessary information.
Due to Wikipedia's nature allowing all members of the public to continually to update and change information it is not considered static information and I feel cannot be referred to as a scholarly reference. Students will have to use their ability to interpret and decipher what knowledge is considered appropriate or inappropriate for assigned tasks.
Until next time,
Until next time,
Prensky, M. (2006). Don't Bother Me Mom - I'm Learning. St. Paul, MN: Paragon House.
Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. Retrieved August 14, 2009, from http://wwww.elearnspace.or/Articles/connectivism.htm
Wikipedia. (2009). About Wikipedia. Retrieved August 14, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia