When Wikipedia was first launched, librarians and teachers were adamant that it should never be used as a valid and authoritative reference source. As time has passed, however, some educators have come to believe that Wikipedia has a place in teaching information literacy and critical thinking.
Scott McLeod’s post on his Dangerously Irrelevant blog gives some good reasons why we should be using Wikipedia with students and why we should talk about its use with our administrators. It’s worth the read.
Where do you stand on the issue?
Will Richardson’s Weblogg-ed pointed me to a very interesting and thought-provoking article today. Entitled Is Google Making Us Stoopid?, the author explores the increasing tendency to skim, scan and browse information rather than doing “deep reading” on a topic. In fact, he presents the idea that perhaps our brains are actually changing and becoming less able to handle this type of thinking.
I’m not so sure.
Where does the purpose for reading come into play? If skimming and scanning information on the web gets me the information that I need, then I’m going to skim and scan. If, however, I have a need to understand something in a deeper way, I’m going to make the effort to find some good quality resources and read them carefully in order to understand the topic and make an informed decision.
Before the days of the Internet, the encyclopedia was the enemy of teachers who wanted students to do deep reading and thinking in a research paper. Students would skim and scan an encyclopedia article and copy enough information to complete the assignment. Today they use the Internet to do the same thing. If, however, we change the assignment/research question so that it is requires original thought, skimming and scanning won’t do.
Maybe deep reading, thinking and writing will occur naturally when that’s what is required – in school and in life.
Take some time to read the article, then share your thoughts in the comments.
Image source: A Twisted Family Tradition – the Lime Jello Brain. Uploaded on February 6, 2005 by hurleygurley. Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works license