Why Not Wikipedia: Appropriate Uses of Online Resources


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  • Welcome to Why NOT Wikipedia: Appropriate Uses of Online Resources…My name is Don Boozer, and I am currently the Statewide Coordinator of KnowItNow24x7
  • KnowItNow24x7 is Ohio’s online reference service staffed by librarians around the state. Our service is included in INFOhio’s “21 Essential Things for 21st Century Education” modules.
  • Here is what our webpage looks like. One thing I will say briefly about KnowItNow24x7 is, if you introduce it to students, *please* don’t have an entire class login at once. We only have 5-10 librarians at most staffing the service at any given time, so a whole class can quickly overwhelm the librarians. Choose one student and have them “test drive” the service and then encourage others to use the service after class, in the library, or at home.If you have any questions about the service, I’d be glad to answer them after our presentation this morning and I do have some free giveaways for you and your students so feel free to pick some up after our talk.But we’re here today to talk about…
  • Wikipedia. This is some people’s reaction to Wikipedia…whether that’s a positive yell or a negative yell depends on your perspective. We often see students on KnowItNow24x7 say they simply can’t use Wikipedia and while I would agree the resource is not ready to be included in bibliographies for reports…
  • …my hope today is to dispel some myths about the online encyclopedia and describe in more detail what it is, provide some tips on how best to interact with it, look at some other popular online resources like Twitter and Facebook, and share some strategies on how you and your students can get interact with those resources...
  • Well, according to Wikipedia…. it is “a free, web-based, collaborative, multilingualencyclopedia project supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation.”
  • If we pull out the keywords from that definition we get Free, Web-based, Collaborative, Multilingual, and Non-profit. In many ways, starts to sound like many other educational initiatives and institutions. As that definition points out Wikipedia is part of the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation
  • It’s important to remember that Wikipedia is not run by a huge, multi-billion dollar company like Google or Facebook but instead the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation. For example, In 2010, Google had revenues worth over$29 billion! The Wikimedia Foundation, on the other hand, had revenues totaling a little over $16 million. What is more interesting is that most of that money came from well over a quarter of a million donors giving $10,000 or less. Wikimedia is more like NPR (without the government funding) than it is Google or Facebook.
  • Here is just one building on the campus of Google Headquarters in California known asthe “Googleplex” –The Googleplex also includes sculptures, sand volleyball courts, a laundromat, and much much more.
  • Here’s a photo of the Wikimedia Foundation’s offices on the third floor of an office building in San Francisco.
  • You can see here that Wikipedia isn’t the only Wikimedia project…
  • For example, the Wikimedia Commons is a great place for students to get public domain images for reports and homework assignments….
  • That being said, Wikipedia is clearly the most visible and popular of their projects. One thing to keep in mind is…
  • Wikipedia is not (by definition) evil. It has its detractors. It does have its faults. But the stated mission of the Wikimedia Foundation is “to empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally. “ On the face of it, that doesn’t sound too bad. So, what I’d like to encourage you to do is to…
  • … Wikipedia as simply a tool. The use it’s put to (whether to tighten a bolt or hit someone over the head) is up to the user. One criticism of Wikipedia that often gets leveled is….
  • “You can’t trust ANYTHING on Wikipedia because ANYONE can edit ANYTHING.” Theoretically, this is correct. In practice, Wikipedia is an amazing self-correcting system. Studies have been done to gauge the rate at which incorrect information is corrected and, in many cases, this is measured in MINUTES through vigilant editors and algorithms. Yes, you will find incorrect information (and some famous cases of that), but, from my perspective, that’s a reason to get involved in contributing to the project and not just complaining about the resource itself.
  • To give one concrete example… Here is the top of the Wikipedia article on Tecumseh.
  • I noticed that there was no mention of the outdoor drama performed in Chillicothe, so I added it to the text and put a link to the performances website on July 6, 2010, at 6:27 pm…
  • Three minutes later, someone called ActiveBanana deleted my line of text and added a note saying “Self promotional – not third party coverage”. So, what did I do?
  • I went out and found a reference to an award the outdoor drama had won and the obituary of Allan W. Eckert which mentions his authorship of the script. And, so far, that line has stayed put. It was a very good learning experience for me!
  • Just looking at the raw numbers, we can see Wikipedia is not likely to go anywhere in the foreseeable future.It is consistently inthe TOP 10 most-visited websites *in the world*. It has 380 Million unique visitors per month.There are over 280 different language versions of the Encyclopedia and we’ll discuss these in more depth later in the talk.In all the different versions, there are well over 19 MILLION articlesAnd there are over 90,000 active volunteer editors around the world each month.
  • And its popularity shows some amazing trends. This graph shows unique visitors since April 2008 through July 2011.
  • Size of English Wikipedia in August 2010. Using volumes 25 cm high and 5 cm thick (some 400 pages), each page having two columns, each columns having 80 rows, and each row having 50 characters, ≈ 6 MB per volume. As English Wikipedia has around 15887 MB of text (August 2010) ≈ 2647 volumes (2660 in illustration). Note that this is a conservative estimate, as it doesn't include images, tables etc. which take up more surface than the text which describes them. The grid has 1x1 meter squares, and the person should be 180 centimeters tall. It is actually the male silhouette from the Pioneer plaques.So, with that in mind…..
  • … Let’s view Wikipedia as simply a tool and think about how we interact with it and how we instruct students to do the same.
  • So then what are some appropriate ways of using this information tool…
  • So then what are some appropriate ways of using this information tool…
  • Wikipedia is an excellent resource to BEGIN one’s research… I’m not advocating using it on a bibliography or as the DEFINITIVE place to research, but it can often provide a good summary, terminology, authors, and other extremely useful information.For example,….
  • SCIENCE: Just to give an idea of the depth of articles, I’ll be using their print size today. This article, for example, printed out on 8-1/2x11 paper would run 32 pages long with over half of those containing references, further reading suggestions (that’s **books**), and external links.Note the “silver lock”. This means that this article is “semi-protected”. This means unregistered users (using only an IP Address) cannot edit it. It also means that only “pre-authenticated” users (that is those that have an established account, have been registered for a certain length of time, and who are active) can edit the article.The Little speaker next to the lock means that this particular article has an audio component… like an audiobook version of the article.The Gold Star means that this is a “featured article”: it is considered to be one of the best articles on Wikipedia as determined by Wikipedia’s editors. There are 3,321 featured articles out of 3,677,616 articles on the English Wikipedia.Notice also that if this is too complex, there’s a link to a “non-technical introduction to the topic” under “Introduction to genetics”The top part of the image in the lower right is actually an animated .gif which rotates to show the structure of the molecule.
  • ENTERTAINMENT: Again 31 pages in print with 7 pages of citations, further reading, and external links.
  • More HISTORY: 24 pages in print with 3 pages of notes, references, and external links. You can also get here if you search “middle ages food”. All of these articles I’ve just highlighted are FEATURED ARTICLES (notice that Gold Star again)What I personally REALLY like about Wikipedia are those…
  • References and External Links section. Here is a sample of that for the “Medieval Cuisine” article. These are easily one of the **MOST** helpful things about Wikipedia: its inclusion of links to resources (both print and online) outside of itself.
  • Of course, not all articles are “featured” content in Wikipedia. But 4 random articles (using Wikipedia’s Random Article feature in the navigation menu) demonstrate the breadth of Wikipedia’s coverage. You’ll often see headers like the ones at the top notifying editors of needed edits, references, and other concerns. The “Random Article” feature is a great little tool for serendipitous discovery.
  • One place that Wikipedia **really** shines Is in its coverage of pop culture. To start with one concrete example…
  • We recently had a question on KnowItNow24x7 about Selena Gomez so I thought I’d use her as an illustrative example of the depth of coverage in Pop Culture. We start with her basic entry on Wikipedia. Notice it has a “silver lock” up in the upper right corner.
  • If we scroll down that page, we find a link to *another* Wikipedia article just on Selena and her band’s discography.
  • Going there, one finds if you scroll down …….
  • …… a detailed list along with Peak Chart Positions not just in the US but also Canada, France, Japan, New Zealand, and even Switzerland!! But let’s say our student or patron wants info on just Gomez’s “Kiss & Tell” album…
  • …… a detailed list along with Peak Chart Positions not just in the US but also Canada, France, Japan, New Zealand, and even Switzerland!! But let’s say our student or patron wants info on just Gomez’s “Kiss & Tell” album…
  • Well, there’s a Wikipedia page for that, too!! Printed out on 8-1/2x11 paper, this article **ON ONE ALBUM** runs 13 pages including 3-1/2 pages that contain 75 references to reputable sources like Billboard, Amazon, and MTV. I’m sorry, but my mind is officially boggled.And it’s not just pop music that has that depth.
  • There are also extensive articles on video games… This Call of Duty: Black Ops articles runs 21 printed pages with over 9 pages of references! There’s also an article on the whole Call of Duty game franchise.
  • And films… This entry is on the franchise of the Friday the 13th movies… (**Not the film** there are individual articles on those) runs 23 printed pages with 7 full pages of references!. You’ll notice the little Green circle with the + sign. This is what is called a “good article” - Good articles are articles which are considered to be of good quality but which are not yet, or are unlikely to reach, featured article quality. And each of those categories (good, featured, etc.) have specific criteria that are looked at by the editors. Currently about 1 in 300 articles have a “good” designation.
  • And television… (This entry on The Simpsons runs 28 printed pages with 11 pages of references!). This is a “featured” article and has a “silver lock”.
  • And books… Let’s not forget them! (This entry on The Chronicles of Narnia runs 22 printed pages). Wikipedia is a great place to find the “reading order” of lengthy series especially in Sci-Fi and Fantasy or even controversial reading orders like this section of the article on The Chronicles of Narnia.I’m willing to bet that there is not a single source that includes this depth of information on that breadth of pop culture along with links to other sources. I’m sure we could find all the information in each of those Wikipedia articles through Google and other searches, but why not start with the articles that others (most likely ardent fans of each pop culture item) have put together?
  • Another great use of Wikipedia is for foreign language study. There are 280+ different language versions of Wikipedia…
  • It’s important to remember that the various Wikipedias are **NOT** machine translations of English-language Wikipedia articles. Each language version has its own volunteer editors that write the articles for their Wikipedia. Each Wikipedia version is a unique, cultural product. Mention Italian Wikipedia.“An administrator is a user that can protect/unprotect pages, delete/undelete pages, block/unblock users, and do a variety of other tasks (see full list here). To become an administrator, one must make a request at Meta:Requests for adminship and meet the requirements listed there.”A user is also known as a “Wikimedian” or “Wikipedian”, active users are those “registered users who have performed an action in the last 30 days.”For example…
  • As an example, let’s scroll down that DNA article we looked at earlier and expand our view. You’ll see all the language versions of this specific article in the navigation menu to the left. This particular topic (DNA) has 108 different language versions. And there are a number of lesser-known languages. Let’s take for example this article in the Euskara Wikipedia, that’s the language of the Basque in northern Spain and southwest France.
  • The DNA article on the Basque Wikipedia (Basque’s name for their own language is Euskara… Notice it’s also a Featured (Gold Star) article in the Basque language Wikipedia and that they’ve used a different graphic for the top of the article. This article also includes a different animated .gif. Note also that all the languages are still listed *in their original language name* so we see English in the middle of that list.So it’s *very* easy to switch from one language version to another.Some other examples are….
  • Chess on the French Wikipedia…
  • Medieval Cuisine on the Hebrew Wikipedia… Note it’s right to left orientation!
  • The Call of Duty: Black Ops article on the Finnish Wikipedia.
  • The Simpsons article on the Esperanto Wikipedia.
  • And finally an excerpt from the Selena Gomez article on the Spanish-language Wikipedia.What about assigning a translation exercise from one of the Wikipedias in a foreign language class?This provides a wealth of material that may very well be more relevant to students than other more familiar sources.
  • That provides some background and ideas on Wikipedia. Let’s now briefly turn our attention to some other resources….
  • Twitter! This is a copy of our Twitter account for KnowItNow24x7. One thing that many people don’t know is that it is quite possible to have a “conversation” over Twitter with its Reply and Send a Message features. Some college classes use Twitter as a “back channel” during classes for students to ask for more info from a librarian. And I know the Columbus Metro Library has a book discussion group that use Twitter for their book discussions.Another great use of Twitter is…
  • The Columbus Metro Library has a book discussion group that use Twitter for their book discussions.Another great use of Twitter is…
  • The ability to stay up-to-date with various institutions, organizations, and individuals and to interact with them. Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson has a very active Twitter account and regularly responds to those replying to his “tweets”.So even if you have a Twitter account and don’t “tweet”, you can get a lot of benefit from using this microblogging site.Twitter can also be a great current events tool for students along with…
  • Facebook. Like Twitter, Facebook also allows people to stay up-to-the-minute with current events and to interact with organizations and individuals.Then we come to….
  • Google!Google continues to DOMINATE the search engine marketplace with around 65 to 70% of all Internet searches done through Google. One skill we should be teaching students is how to do good searches *and* how to evaluate information they find using Google.Similar to Wikipedia…
  • Google is another collection of tools in our information toolbox.
  • Google Web Search is probably the most well-known. A whole presentation could be done on the various searches one can do and delimiters, etc., etc. Maybe we’ll leave that for next year.
  • But Google has many very useful tools in its toolbox.Docs is great for collaboration.
  • Google Books is a great resource for everything from finding quotes to verifying sources or bibliographical citations. Entire books are online and no it’s *not* “information from a website”………
  • This is just a couple examples of full-text books online through Google books.
  • Google Translate is a nice tool to use in conjunction with those different Wikipedia language versions we discussed earlier.
  • This shows the original Russian language version of an article on the Gorilla with it’s Google-Translate version. Note that you can flip back and forth between the original and the translation (in the upper right corner)
  • YouTube can be extremely helpful in explaining everything from how to factor equations to how to change an oil filter on a car.
  • Google News is a great current events tool….
  • Google Reader allows one to aggregate RSS feeds from blogs and other sources into one convenient location.
  • And if you haven’t used the Google Patent Search, you’re missing a great resources for all those inventor reports like…
  • …the original diagram of Garrett Morgan’s traffic light submitted with his patent application in 1922. Garret Morgan for those who don’t know was the Cleveland resident who invented the mechanical traffic light.
  • …and here’s another one of Morgan’s invention from 1914. In July 1916, Garrett Morgan and group of volunteers made national news for using his gas mask to rescue 32 men trapped after an explosion in atunnel under Lake Erie. Google Patents has patents issued as far back as 1837.
  • So, finally, we get to how you (and by extension your students) can get involved in these various online projects and resources.
  • For one, If they’re doing projects on local history or inventors or really any topic, encourage students to update the Wikipedia pages on those topics. If one doesn’t exist, even better…create one! A number of college professors have assigned editing and/or creating Wikipedia articles as part of their classes……
  • Consider how interesting it might be for students in K-12 to see **their** contributions accepted, expanded upon, or deleted. Use this as a point of discussion for why their information was treated the way it was.
  • The Wikimedia Foundation has a number of resources, both practical and inspirational, to get started on editing and using Wikipedia. That bitly link will provide a number of resources for you.
  • Another idea is to use social media to connect students to the wider world. Consider having a “class” or “school” Twitter, Facebook, YouTube account. Assign students to update and add content. Interact with government officials, writers, scientists (like @neiltyson), and others.Twitter, Facebook, Wikipedia, and Google News are also all excellent sources for current events.Or use them as a collaborative tool with other schools across the state, country, or world! That bit.ly link will provide you with 5 online articles on integrating social media into the classroom. One link alone has “100 Inspiring Ways to Use Social Media in the Classroom”.
  • More and more, students, teachers, librarians… in fact, all people… are becoming more connected and more interdependent through the use of technology. Promoting what is being called “digital citizenship” is an important component of becoming productive inhabitants of the 21st-century. In fact, yesterday here at the conference there were two programs on promoting digital citizenship with students. That bitly link will provide resources on this topic.
  • In the end, Remember that these online resources: Wikipedia, Google, Facebook, Twitter… are all simply tools in our collective information toolbox. They can be very useful for:- Digging into a topic you’re unfamiliar with- Finding out about popular culture- Studying a foreign language- Keeping up-to-date on current eventsIf we have a “no tolerance” policy toward the use of these resources, we are missing an opportunity to teach valuable critical-thinking and information-seeking skills. Using and contributing to these resources ourselves will in turn help us to teach students to use them wisely, equipping those same students to be discerning users of the vast world of online information we find ourselves in today.
  • Thank you.
  • Why Not Wikipedia: Appropriate Uses of Online Resources

    1. 1. Why NotWikipedia?<br />Appropriate Uses of Online Resources<br />OELMA Annual Conference - October 14, 2011<br />Don Boozer, KnowItNow24x7 Coordinator<br />
    2. 2. www.knowitnow.org<br />One of INFOhio’s “21 Essential Things”<br />learningcommons.infohio.org<br />
    3. 3. www.knowitnow.org<br />One of INFOhio’s “21 Essential Things”<br />learningcommons.infohio.org<br />
    4. 4. !<br />
    5. 5. Why Not Wikipedia?<br /> What is Wikipedia?<br /> What are appropriate uses of it?<br /> What about other online resources?<br /> How can I get involved?<br />
    6. 6. What is Wikipedia?<br />“a free, web-based, collaborative, multilingual encyclopedia project supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation.” <br />
    7. 7. What is Wikipedia?<br /><ul><li>Free
    8. 8. Web-based
    9. 9. Collaborative
    10. 10. Multilingual
    11. 11. Non-profit </li></li></ul><li> www.wikimedia.org<br />
    12. 12. The “Googleplex”<br />
    13. 13. www.wikimedia.org<br />
    14. 14. www.wikimedia.org<br />
    15. 15. www.wikimedia.org<br />
    16. 16. www.wikimedia.org<br />
    17. 17. “Wikipedia is not evil.”<br />
    18. 18. Wikipedia is a tool.<br />
    19. 19. “Anyone can edit anything!”<br />
    20. 20. Case in point… Tecumseh<br />
    21. 21. Added July 6, 2010, at 6:27pm<br />
    22. 22. (->Tecumseh in popular culture: self promotional - not third party coverage)<br /> Deleted July 6, 2010, at 6:30pm<br />
    23. 23. Added July 11, 2010, 3:13pm<br />
    24. 24. <ul><li> 7th most popular website in the world
    25. 25. 380,000,000 visitors
    26. 26. 280+ languages
    27. 27. 19,800,000 articles
    28. 28. 90,000+ editors</li></ul> By the numbers…<br />
    29. 29. By the numbers…<br />
    30. 30. English Wikipedia<br />equals<br />2,600+<br />printed volumes<br />Encyclopedia<br />Britannica<br /> By the numbers…<br />
    31. 31. Wikipedia is a tool.<br />
    32. 32. What are appropriate uses of it?<br />
    33. 33. What are appropriate uses of it?<br /><ul><li> Introduction to a topic
    34. 34. Popular culture
    35. 35. Foreign language study</li></li></ul><li> Introduction to a topic…<br />
    36. 36.
    37. 37.
    38. 38.
    39. 39.
    40. 40.
    41. 41. Pop culture…<br />
    42. 42.
    43. 43.
    44. 44.
    45. 45.
    46. 46.
    47. 47.
    48. 48.
    49. 49.
    50. 50.
    51. 51.
    52. 52. Foreign language study…<br />
    53. 53.
    54. 54.
    55. 55.
    56. 56.
    57. 57.
    58. 58.
    59. 59.
    60. 60.
    61. 61. What about other online resources?<br />
    62. 62. Twitter… <br />
    63. 63. #CMLbookchat<br /> Twitter… <br />
    64. 64. Twitter… <br />
    65. 65. Facebook…<br />
    66. 66. Google…<br />
    67. 67. Google is a collection of tools.<br />
    68. 68. Google is a collection of tools.<br />
    69. 69. Google is a collection of tools.<br />
    70. 70. Google is a collection of tools.<br />
    71. 71.
    72. 72. Google is a collection of tools.<br />
    73. 73.
    74. 74. Google is a collection of tools.<br />
    75. 75. Google is a collection of tools.<br />
    76. 76. Google is a collection of tools.<br />
    77. 77. Google is a collection of tools.<br />
    78. 78.
    79. 79.
    80. 80. How can I get involved?<br />
    81. 81. Encourage students to edit articles<br />
    82. 82. Encourage students to edit articles<br />
    83. 83. http://bitly.com/qbASkd<br />
    84. 84. http://bitly.com/qNEHsE<br /> Connect students to the world<br />
    85. 85. http://bitly.com/oPTkDu<br />Encourage responsible “digital citizenship”<br />
    86. 86. Use your tools wisely<br />
    87. 87. Thank you!<br />Evaluation posted at<br />bit.ly/whynotwiki<br />Slides are available at<br />www.slideshare.net/donboozer<br />Don Boozer<br />KnowItNow24x7 Coordinator<br />don@cpl.org<br />