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> This Is Your Education On Wikipedia, Working Drafts Toward A Paper ???
Jon Awbrey
post Sat 15th January 2011, 5:48pm
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I'm going to use this thread to collect previous posts on educational philosophy and educational practice that seem worth preserving, and perhaps even rewriting for wider distribution.

Jon Awbrey
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Jon Awbrey
post Sun 16th January 2011, 5:50am
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Content, Conduct, Culture

Too much commentary on what students learn from Wikipedia stops with the content of articles and fails to examine what students learn from participating in the culture of Wikipedia.

Educators know that education is as much about process as it is about product. They understand that students “learn by doing”, by taking part in communities of practice. What do students learn by playing the Wikipedia online game? Answers to that question can be gleaned from those who have participated in the full range of Wikipedia activities and seen how it really operates beneath the surface.

What are the effects of the Wikipedia environment on the critical thinking, information literacy, and research skills of its participants?

The effects of using Wikipedia as a source of information is a research question.

The effects of participating more broadly in Wikipedian activities, from the editing game to the policy-making game, is another research question.

Even a bad source of information and a bad guide to the norms of research methodology can provide object lessons in critical thinking and information literacy — if the user is capable of reflecting on its deficiencies.

Whether Wikipedia helps or hinders the user in gaining that capacity is yet another research question.

Educators are aware that learners have many different paths to knowledge. Among the most obvious are these:
  1. Learning by being told.
  2. Learning by doing things for oneself.
  3. Learning by watching what others do.
What do people learn from participating in the full range of activities provided by the Wikipedia website, considered with regard to each of these modes?

Some of the questions that educational researchers would naturally think to ask about the Wikipedia experience are these:
  1. What do people learn about the ethical norms of journalism, research, and scholarship?
  2. What do people learn about the intellectual norms of journalism, research, and scholarship?
For example, questions that one might ask under the indicated headings are these:
  • What do people learn about the relative values of primary and secondary sources from reading the relevant policy pages in Wikipedia?
  • What do people learn about plagiarism from watching what others do in Wikipedia?

— 01 Apr 2008 • IHE

Wikipedia is irresponsible journalism and irresponsible scholarship

It begins with “editors” giving false names. It continues with influence peddling, organized plagiarism, and the stubborn persistence of false information. It ends with “administrators” bearing false witness against those who criticize it.

People who enter the Wikipedia compound and persist in asking the kinds of questions that responsible journalists and responsible scholars are just naturally bound to ask — they will find that their days in good favor are numbered, unless, of course they stop asking those questions and just “assume good faith”.

If professional journalists and scholars don't start doing their jobs, and this means doing a whole lot more than duping Wikipediot Articles of Faith and recycling Wikipediot PR, then WikiPundits will soon be putting them out of those jobs.

So watch out for that …

— 01 Apr 2008 • IHE
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Jon Awbrey
post Sun 16th January 2011, 6:44am
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I could repeat all of the things that I have written about Wikipediot Culture over the past 5 years, and all of it would still be true. All that's changed is that the danger to the minds of students and to society at large is even greater today than it was 10 years ago.

Though many emphasize content issues, that is only part of the story. Far worse is the mis-education in the ways of inquiry and the warping of personal character to which even the most well-intentioned participants are eventually subjected.

Academic researchers and journalists on all sides have let us down. They do little more than recycle Wikipediot PR and blow pretty bubbles of wishful theory that are wholly divorced from hard knocks observation of what actually happens on Wikipedia Island on a day to day basis. It begins to look like it may be a decade or so before the real effects of Wikipedia Culture begin to make an impact on the dreamy bubble worlds of academics and media hacks. It won't be pretty — let's hope it won't be too late.

— 10 Jan 2011 • Chron
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Jon Awbrey
post Wed 19th January 2011, 4:28am
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In its impact on the ecology of knowledge, Wikipedia amounts to a non-sustainable exploitation of cultural resources.

Wikipedia is analogous to a multinational timber conglomerate that clear-cuts living forests to crank out its lumber and its pulp, with no understanding of the living system that it sucks on like a destructive parasite.

— 17 Jan 2011 • SFGate

Wikipedia culture is fundamentally alien to critical thinking and reflective educational practice. If educators don’t start figuring this out pretty soon, we’re all in a lot of trouble.

— 17 Jan 2011 • Chron
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Jon Awbrey
post Thu 20th January 2011, 3:33am
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One of the lessons that my teachers impressed on my mind throughout my extended career as a student was that learning static facts is never enough, and even potentially misleading, if one fails to learn the dynamics of inquiry, the means by which that knowledge is produced.

Maybe it didn't have to be, but the way it's turned out in practice, the culture of those who promote Wikipedia is antithetical to everything I learned about learning.

To make matters worse, the media commentary that makes its half-hearted attempts to evaluate Wikipedia focuses almost exclusively on the content, with no appreciation of just how badly participants in Wikipedia culture are being mis-educated about the means that real knowledge-workers use to discover and validate knowledge.

This is a critical failure for any enterprise that claims to be in the business of collecting the sum total of human knowledge.

They do not know the first thing about it.

— 18 Jan 2011 • MSU
— 19 Jan 2011 • Chron
— 20 Jan 2011 • Econ
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Jon Awbrey
post Thu 20th January 2011, 4:28am
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The long and short of it is that the longer students participate in editing Wikipedia the more bad habits they will acquire. Wikipedia Culture (WC) is radically different from Academic Culture (AC), and the more time developing personalities spend in WC the more their conduct will depart from the norms of scholarship and citizenship both.

— 19 Jan 2011 • Chron

I think we all understand that there are many people of good will who edit Wikipedia. But good will is not what pervades the Wikipedia system as a whole. What pervades Wikipedia over and above everything else is a lack of desire for the truth.

— 20 Jan 2011 • Chron
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Jon Awbrey
post Fri 21st January 2011, 5:16pm
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Now, the thing that every generation ought to be thinking about is this: What are you going to do when those Authoritative, Respected, Trustworthy Sources (ARTS) are gone, or darn near impossible to find outside of an ARTS museum? Sure, you say, we'll just put that whole darn ARTS museum online, but who will have the skill and who will you trust to curate it?

— 21 Jan 2011 • Chron
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Jon Awbrey
post Thu 27th January 2011, 6:52pm
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Facebook Notes

QUOTE

Social media do of course have great potential — that's been the dream of many since the mid 1980s, just since I started paying attention — but the conditions under which that potential can be realized are simply not present in Wikipedia. Far from it.

Jonny Cache • 26 Jan 2011


QUOTE

As far as content goes, I am primarily concerned with the areas of my own research, not how well Wikipedia covers Pokemon or Porn Stars, and in the areas of my interest Wikipedia is not significantly, certainly not cost-effectively better than it was in 2005 when I first got fooled into trying to correct some of the more egregious errors that Google was beginning regurgitate at the top of its results.

But I am concerned with factors that I consider even more important than mere content alone, namely, with the ethical and intellectual habits that developing characters acquire on account of their participation in a given community or culture. And when it comes to that, Wikipedia Culture is a serious threat to most of the things that I have cared about since coming of age in this one.

Jonny Cache • 26 Jan 2011

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Jon Awbrey
post Wed 2nd February 2011, 3:15pm
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Re: Lynda Frank, “Should Wikipedia Be Accepted for High School Research?”, El Cerrito Patch, 29 Jan 2011

QUOTE

Parents, Teachers,

You would not let masked and anonymous strangers with unchecked credentials come into your schools to teach your children on a daily basis. But that is precisely what you are doing when you encourage the use of Wikipedia. I hope you will think very seriously about that and exercise the full duty of care that you would exercise in a similar situation. Those of us who know the realities of Wikipedia know that you need to learn a lot more about it, more than is contained in the rehashed press release from the Wikimedia Foundation that is the uncredited source of the above article.

Sincerely yours,

Jon Awbrey
30 Jan 2011 @ 4:38 am

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Jon Awbrey
post Wed 2nd February 2011, 3:22pm
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QUOTE

Students, Parents, Teachers, Administrators,

People who don't know Wikipedia very well tend to treat it as just another stream of content that passive readers are free to take or leave as they will. If it were really that simple then we might be justified in comparing Wikipedia with the general run of passive content on the Internet and evaluating it on that basis.

But Wikipedia is not like that. It is a Highly Interactive Virtual Environment (a “HIVE” indeed). It combines strong elements of active fantasy and make-believe, like those we find in other brands of interactive fantasy games, with strong elements of pseudo-peer pressure and pseudo-authority emulation, like those we find in ad hoc peer groups and even gangs.

From the very moment a reader first activates an edit button, he or she begins to interact with a population of unknown character and motivation. A minimal responsibility to oneself and one's charges demands that students, parents, teachers, and administrators get to know the character and motivation of that population.

Sincerely yours,

Jon Awbrey
31 Jan 2011 @ 7:28 am


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