Don’t remember where I first heard of the Gearfire Student Productivity blog I’m thrilled for the referral. One post this week really impressed me: “4 ways to use Wikipedia (hint: never cite it)“.

When I hear Wikipedia bias, the less damaging type usually goes something like “high school students shouldn’t cite an encyclopedia in research papers, so they shouldn’t use Wikipedia at all.” Students, then, get this idea that Wikipedia is completely off-limits to them. Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater!

I was saying “Yes! Right on!” to my computer when I read the first way to use Wikipedia:

Background information: The Grapes of Wrath makes a lot more sense if you understand the dust bowl of the depression. The fighting in Iraq makes more sense if you understand that it wasn’t until after World War I that it became one country under the British. Knowing the context of your topic can help you understand that material better and write about it more clearly.

I think the 4 ways article combats Wiki-bias really nicely. So nicely that I shared it with the entire teaching staff at my school.

Also in Wikipedia news, a second student of mine contributed to Wikipedia this week. Now he’s on a mission to clean up articles and watch for vandalism. He’s even subscribed to an RSS feed to watch for potential vandals. His first edit, by the way, was to the Vin Diesel article. He noticed that Diesel’s birth name read “Luke Skywalker”, commented that it seemed like someone was messing with the Wikipedia, so I encouraged him to revert the article to its pre-vandal condition. He did and we moved on with class.

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