The good Doctor Tinworth, my wife Lorna, has told me many times how Wikipedia is becoming a battleground in universities, particularly in the sciences. More and more students are handing in papers which cite only Wikipedia as a source. Anyone who knows anything about how scientific literature functions, and the fundamental concepts that underpin it, can see that as a problem. Wikipedia is closing the specialist students’ minds to potential information, not opening them to it.
Why are we telling our students not to use Wikipedia rather than educating them about how Wikipedia works? Sitting in front of us is an ideal opportunity to talk about how knowledge is produced, how information is disseminated, how ideas are shared. Imagine if we taught the “history” feature so that students would have the ability to track how a Wikipedia entry is produced and assess for themselves what the authority of the author is. You can’t do this with an encyclopedia. Imagine if we taught students how to fact check claims in Wikipedia and, better yet, to add valuable sources to a Wikipedia entry so that their work becomes part of the public good.
And perhaps that’s a good route for educators to take: move from step one (reject) to step two (embrace and extend). It’s a blue monster moment all of their own.
Yes, I just linked to The Sun. Why? Because this is yet another example of people failing to understand the nature of the net – something I’ve been giving a lot of thought to over the last week, for various reasons. Publishing on the internet is not a “get out of jail card” – if anything, it’s the reverse. If you rant about your pupils to a friend in a letter, the chances are that only your friend will ever see it. If you rant about them on a web page, the chances are that your pupils will be able to track it down.
Now, there are way of posting private stuff to the net, well, privately. Facebook and Voxet al have privacy features built in. Until people learn to understand this, and then start using them, then stories like this will keep bubbling up.
I’m a Brit. I live in the UK. I’m not going to be able to join in the iPhone frenzy until later this year, when Apple gets around to launching the thing in Europe.
One thing I am watching with particular interest is the quality of the photography from the phone. My Nokia phones have all but replaced digital compacts in my day to day snapping, leaving me the SLR for serious work.
Can the iPhone come up to scratch in this area? I’ll be watching the quality of images in this iPhone Flickr group carefully.
I think most people who attended LeWeb3 in Paris last year would agree that Hans Rosling was the stand out presenter. His graphical presentations of significant society development statistics is awe-inspiring. His recent TED talk is available as a video, and I couldn’t resist sharing it. Do watch it: