Sunday, February 13, 2011

Wikis and Blogs in the Classroom

Reading the Richardson Chapter on Wikis was very interesting.  Something that really stuck out to me was the section on Wikipedia.  All throughout my schooling, teachers and professors have been telling me that using Wikipedia is not a trustworthy website.  In fact, like Richardson mentioned, teachers would and still stress Wikipedia's inaccuracy due to the fact that anyone could edit the page, and they all would say that we should use it "as a starting point for [our] work, but not as a sole source" (Richardson 2010).

I found this section interesting because Richardson points out that Wikipedia is actually a pretty reliable source.  He mentions how Professor Halavais, from the University of Buffalo, actually tested the reliability by planting 13 errors on various Wikipedia pages and how they were all corrected after a few hours (Richardson 2010).  This study and the section contradict what many of my teachers have told me about Wikipedia.  Reading this section made me realize how important it is for teachers to research and know about the tools that students are using before telling students whether or not they are good tools.  The section also made me realize that Wikipedia is a good source for students to use to find out information.  However, as with using any kind of source, it is important for students to know how to judge the accuracy of the information in the source.

Reading this section also made me realize how much can be done with Wikis.  As the book mentioned, it is a great place for students to collaborate and create pages on various topics.  Because my specialization is history, I can see the advantages of using Wikis in my classroom.  I can have students write their own articles on things we are learning, and have them edit eachother's articles to check for accuracy.  Also, when students change information on pages, I can have them give reasons as to why they made such a change and support it with factual information.  Doing this can make learning about history more meaningful because they are creating something to teach others while learning themselves. I would definitely use Wikis in my classroom, and I think this is a great tool.


  1. Tiffany,

    I also had the same experience as you have with teachers deeming as an unreliable source. What many teachers don't realize is that the list of sources that wikipedia uses can be found at the bottom of each individual page. These resources can be very reliable but can also be pages that have no information to support their facts. These other sites may state correct information, but might not be sites that most schools and educators deem as reliable or good sources to quote information from. While I understand the information provided from Professor Halavais's test of the wikipedia website I want to understand what he means by various pages that he tested. I think that how quickly the information on pages is corrected is also based off of how frequently those pages are visited and somewhat what their importance is.

    I only say this because my boyfriend has a wikipedia page about him. On his page it says "In 2008, Ito was signed by the Saints, but was released at the beginning of the season." This statement is entirely false and never actually occurred, but when you look at the source you find out that the information comes from a fan blog and that it was actually just a rumor among fans. Also, friends of ours have written silly things on his wikipedia page before and the information has remained there for more than a few days. My thought on why this might occur on his page and not others is that his page is not as frequently visited as other pages and thus receives less attention from the wikipedia staff.

    While I agree that wikipedia is more reliable than teachers say, I agree with you that students need to know "how to judge the accuracy of the information in the source." My example shows that it is still possible for errors to slip through the cracks of the wikipages and remain there for future viewers.

  2. Good point Jenny. Though Wikipedia can be a wonderful resource, some pages receive more attention than others, and so there may be some information which is fabricated. But using wikipedia to teach students how to determine the credibility of sources is a very good skill for them to have. They can always start there, do more research, and then check everything for accuracy. The more they read, the more they will see information get repeated. Plus, students will do one Google search and "call it a day" if you let them. They need to learn to ressearch from multiple sources, to be critical readers, and to synthesize information. This is where they need our guidance. Tiffany, I think it is a good idea for you to use a wiki in your classroom! It can be very engaging for students. And though wikipedia may not be entirely accurate all the time, you can certainly see the power of a technology which allows for multiple people to share information and to author together.

  3. Jenny,

    I agree with what you said about some sites being checked more than others. It would be nice if they told us what pages the errors were made on.

    Also, I agree with Professor Hough, it is very important to teach students to check their sources against others. Even websites that can not be edited by everyone can be wrong or written with a bias. In addition, I definitely would love to have a wiki for my classroom because of how it has the potential to engage students in what is being studied.