Below is an extract from article found in http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/sept09/vol67/num01/How-to-Learn-in-the-21st-Century.aspx

It provides ideas about how students can develop critical thinking skills as they test the accuracy of the information they find on Wikipedia.  Wikipedia is a popular choice for information with middle school and some high school students. I have found that students regularly continue to use Wikipedia even when it is not recommended by teachers.  The activities in the article encourage students to investigate the accuracy of Wikipedia articles for themselves so they can critically assess its accuracy. Comparing website information about local places and books they are familiar with are great ways for them to test for accuracy.

Extract of Article:

Some educators prohibit their students from looking at Wikipedia. Others would say that telling students not to use Wikipedia is like telling them not to breathe. I believe that it’s essential to show students how Wikipedia is constructed so they understand its strengths and limitations. A study published in Nature magazine found that the accuracy of articles in Wikipedia was comparable to that of equivalent articles in Encyclopedia Britannica (Giles, 2005). Yet Wikipedia users must also be cautioned by the experience of John Seigenthaler, who for 132 days was falsely mentioned on Wikipedia as possibly being involved in the assassinations of Robert F. Kennedy and John F. Kennedy (Seigenthaler, 2005).

Students need to see Wikipedia entries that have warnings like this:

This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding reliable references (ideally, using inline citations). Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.

Students also need to see that some entries lack corroborating facts and might even be subject to malicious editing. They need to compare earlier versions of the same entry with later ones, to see how refinements and additions helped to build a better entry on the topic.

A 4th grade teacher in New York assigned students to read Charlotte’s Web. Students examined the Wikipedia entry about the book and found errors and omissions. Working in small groups, they proposed changes to Wikipedia to improve the entry (Edinger, 2006).

Students could also contribute by finding content about their town, region, nearby attractions, or school on Wikipedia and providing new content or edits to existing entries on these topics as a character in this recent Baldo comic did. This type of assignment not only demonstrates far more learning than responding to a multiple-choice question but also engages students in contributing to the larger pool of knowledge.

 

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