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Wikipedia and information literacy - LILAC 2014


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"Wikipedia: it’s not the evil elephant in the library reading room". Talk given by Andrew Gray & Nancy Graham at the LILAC 2014 conference.

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Wikipedia and information literacy - LILAC 2014

  1. 1. Wikipedia in the library - the elephant in the (reading) room? Nancy Graham, University of Roehampton Andrew Gray, British Antarctic Survey
  2. 2. the project • A collaboratively-written encyclopedia • A synthesis of published material • Aiming for neutrality and verifiability ...not editorial authority • Free to use, distribute and reuse
  3. 3. the numbers • Thirteen years old • 30,000,000 articles in 280 languages • Growing by 8-10,000 new articles/day • Reaching 500,000,000 readers/month ...or 7% of the world’s population
  4. 4. the problem “We have a problem. The kids these days are reading too many encyclopedias.”
  5. 5. the opportunity • Users are actively seeking out the resource • “Don’t do that!” is never very effective • This is a perfect teaching moment – how to tell the good from the bad? – thinking critically about online material – engaging with the means of production – what are we actually saying “don’t” to?
  6. 6. mapping to ANCIL ANCIL Strand Example learning outcomes from ANCIL Wikipedia related activities 1 – Transition from school to HE Assess your current info-seeking behaviour and compare to experts in your discipline Using a Wikipedia article on your topic, use the references to identify familiar and unfamiliar sources. 3 – Developing academic literacies Identify appropriate terminology, use of language and academic idiom in your discipline Assess and compare the quality of 3 short Wikipedia articles (one poorly written) 4 – Mapping and evaluating the information landscape Develop evaluative criteria for recognizing and selecting trustworthy sources of academic quality in your discipline Compare a Wikipedia page with a traditional encyclopaedia. Compare with excerpts from textbooks and journals. 7 – Ethical dimension of information Summarise the key ways you can use and share information without infringing another’s rights Students asked to find suitable images for re- use using Wikimedia Commons. 8 – Presenting and communicating knowledge Use language appropriately in your academic writing Discuss the importance of writing objectively in Wikipedia 9 – Synthesising information and creating new knowledge Assess the value of new information objectively in the context of your work Students to debate a topic using information from Wikipedia 10 – Social dimension of information Transfer the skills of finding, critically evaluating and deploying information to the workplace Ask students to use only freely available sources from Wikipedia to answer a subject query, then search using subscription sources.
  7. 7. some thoughts • On average... quality is acceptable • 2005 study: four errors in WP for three in Britannica • 2011 study (in English, Spanish, Arabic): “…the Wikipedia articles in this sample scored higher overall than the comparison articles with respect to accuracy, references, style/ readability and overall judgment…” • But millions of articles = millions of problems • Radically transparent editorial process • Signs are there for alert readers
  8. 8. looking for the hints Article tags Talk pages and histories Corner icons - locked (a red flag) - quality ratings (positive) ...and, most basic of all, style
  9. 9. moving onwards Footnotes Internal navigation
  10. 10. the projects • Wikipedia Education Program – Encouraging teachers to engage with WP – Content creation, critical assessment, etc. • Online courses – “Writing Wikipedia” MOOC (now fourth round) • Outreach resources – Wide range of past projects for different audiences – Some printed/printable material available
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  12. 12. case studies • Head & Eisenberg (2010): survey of the ways students use Wikipedia as a resource • Sormuen & Lehtiö (2011): students wrote Wikipedia articles, which were examined to study their citing/plagarising habits • Konieczny (2012): survey of five years of teaching using Wikipedia in various ways • Roth, Davis & Carver (2013): examination of student engagement with Wikipedia-related teaching projects ...and many other examples of university projects
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  14. 14. Contact details Nancy Graham, University of Roehampton Email: Twitter: @msnancygraham Andrew Gray, British Antarctic Survey Email: Twitter: @generalising 14