Wicked pedia?

Judy O’Connell’s recent post about students and Wikipedia reminded me that there was a very funny post about Wikipedia a few months ago, on the nswtl listserv, whereby someone had found, incidentally, that some fool had sabotaged the entry on the Newcastle (NSW) Earthquake… to say that it was started by someone stamping their foot in anger.

Of course, before the first post to the listserv was barely in people’s “In” boxes, someone else, a registered contributor to Wikipedia, had gone into the site to edit the entry back again. And then announced their restorative action on the listserv. Which caused more consternation because several teacher-librarians had already bookmarked (but not thought to “Save to file”) a copy of the sabotaged entry to use as an example when doing explicit teaching about online research.

Slam it all you like; Wikipedia is invaluable as an orientation tool. A living, breathing, evolving encyclopedia of everything, written by people who fancy themselves as experts in areas of trivia. (Sounds like me!)

I’ve been know to use the wiki when I hit a topic I know nothing about, and it usually gives me at least a feel for the type of more authoritative information that is likely to be out there, beyond the Wikipedia entry. Or whether it’s a more obscure topic. And when I’ve found topics that have rather lean (or totally wrong) information, and I know something about them, I’ve been known to add data myself: Number 96, The Magic Circle Club, Luna Park Sydney, Star Trek, Andorians… important stuff like that. 😉 Even cataloguers keep a watch on it.

Of course school and university students will be drawn to Wikipedia – like moths to a flame! The key is how we all, as researchers, use that information to keep on investigating!

A “hit” of feedback

Over at the professional teacher-librarian listservs, OZTL_Net and nswtl, it is customary to post a “hit” of useful feedback to the list when people have elected to send private emails in response to a post. The information is anonymous, in that it’s from private emails, and a hit can save the cluttering up of the actual listserv traffic with lots of “me too” and “well done” posts. A hit also collects useful snippets of information in the one place.

A few days ago, I posted the URL of this blog to both OZTL_Net and nswtl and the emails started coming in immediately. Many thanks for the great feedback, everyone. Some readers responded in the Comments section of the blog itself, but I wanted to share some of the other messages that have come through to me by email.

What is really exciting (and important) is that I’ve already inspired others to take immediate action to plan for using Web 2.0 tools with their classes this year. Blogs! Blog comments! Wikis! Memes! Book raps

As I said last year – on the second occasion I heard about the place of wikis and blogs in education – if I don’t attempt it now, I might never feel “ready”. There’s something to be said about learning along with the students.

* “Good on you Ian. I’ll be reading. I’ve just started writing one too… Good luck on the blogging journey!”

* “I checked out your blog cos I had a spare mo and liked your 10 questions so much I thought I’d have to ask if I can use them blatantly for the book discussion group that I have to set up as an extracurricular activity. I’ll share the blog too but thought I might set up something similar or get the students to do it on our school intranet.”

* “Very impressive, Ian”

* “I checked out your Wiki with the kindy kids. Loved it! Love to try it this year… The stories are great by the way. I’ve set up a Wiki with pbwiki and so am one quarter of the way there.”

* “FABULOUS!!! I can only aspire to bloggin’ at present but I take heart from your bold step”.

“Looks great – very inspiring.”

Thanks everyone! See you here in the blogosphere sometime.