Friday, February 23, 2007

Hot Town, Summer and the Wiki!

We are failing our students. I don't mean we are giving them "F"s. I mean we are not teaching them what an authoritative source is. I tell my kids that ANYTHING they find on the internet will get strict scrutiny from me. Much better to have some original source. And if they even USE wikipedia, and I found out about it: D for death is their fate. Obviously, citing wikipedia would be an admission of guilt, so I have never seen it. Apparently, it happens, tho. The apocalypse.

Still, I am of good cheer. In fact, this story from the NYTimes....

When half a dozen students in Neil Waters’s Japanese history class at Middlebury College asserted on exams that the Jesuits supported the Shimabara Rebellion in 17th-century Japan, he knew something was wrong. The Jesuits were in “no position to aid a revolution,” he said; the few of them in Japan were in hiding.

He figured out the problem soon enough. The obscure, though incorrect, information was from Wikipedia, the collaborative online encyclopedia, and the students had picked it up cramming for his exam.

Dr. Waters and other professors in the history department had begun noticing about a year ago that students were citing Wikipedia as a source in their papers. When confronted, many would say that their high school teachers had allowed the practice.

But the errors on the Japanese history test last semester were the last straw. At Dr. Waters’s urging, the Middlebury history department notified its students this month that Wikipedia could not be cited in papers or exams, and that students could not “point to Wikipedia or any similar source that may appear in the future to escape the consequences of errors.”

....moved me to song: (with apologies to the ever tuneful Lovin' Spoonful)


Verse 1
Hot link, research and the wiki!
Finding real cites is so darned tricky.
Due next class, I just need a quicky
Doesn't seem to be a problem with the wiki

All around, people looking half dead
Walking to the library, wonderin' what Rousseau said.

But at wiki it's a different world
Go out and find that URL
Cut-paste the text, then dance all night
Prof won't check, it'll be alright

And babe, you can't be too picky
When real books are too real for the wiki
Doing research...on the wiki!
Doing research...on the wiki!

Verse 2
Cool kids, writing for credit
Using a source even morons can edit.
In the library, real journal pieces head it--
But then you'd have to look up who said it!
Till you're reading 20 pages
Going up and down stairs, learning from dead sages!


Verse 3
Hot link, plagiarize the wiki!
Writing things yourself is so darned tricky.
Due in two hours, I just need a quicky
Haven't been taught how NOT to use the wiki

All around, GOOGLE showing matches;
I think it's past time kids learned just what a "source" is.


(Nod: Return of the Anonyman)


Jacob said...

via Volokh a couple weeks ago, behold: Wikipedia Brown.

Anonymous said...

Well, if you don't make Governor, you can always be poet laureate

Simon Spero said...

Have you been following any of the ICT Assessment discussions?
ETS is trying to launch a new product line
Would you tell your students to ignore the work of Reinhard Selten?
I 'ad that Bruno Frey in the back of me cab once.