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Posts Tagged ‘wikipedia’

Reliability of Wikipedia

Posted by knockels on 13 February, 2009

Read recently an interesting piece on the Guardian blogs, by Marcel Berlins. He starts by arguing that Wikipedia is fundamentally flawed, as it allows anyone to edit without having their credentials checked.   As evidence for this he cites some examples of people’s biographies being inaccurate (people being declared dead, for example, when they are not – mind you, the Guardian obits page itself has done this, I think).  But he ends by saying that to change Wikipedia so that this vetting occurs would be unmanageable, and therefore we need to accept that its usefulness comes at a price.

This has set me thinking.  I can see that articles about things where political opinions generate a lot of heat might well be open to abuse or misuse, with frequent edits and more opinions than fact.   I would be loath to see medical students rely on Wikipedia when there are sources with more obvious provenance available. 

But I suspect that articles about things where there are plenty of enthusastic amateurs (morris dancing, for example) may be very useful, up to date, and accurate, and that the discussion page attached to the article will document all the angels dancing on the head of a pin sort of arguments that ensue.

I run a web evaluation exercise with second year genetics students, where they choose two websites from a list I supply.   One has to be one that they think is suitable to use in academic work (and they have a list of criteria to use to help them evaluate), and the other one one that is unsuitable.   Some of the sites are obviously fine, and others obviously not, but I have included a Wikipedia page.   Last year was interesting, and this year will be too, I think!

Posted in Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Tagged: , | 7 Comments »

TAN: Web 2.0 & Information Literacy

Posted by selinalock on 15 January, 2009

Several of us from the library attended the Teaching Assessment Network presentation yesterday by Sarah Whittaker and Alan Cann.

The slides with an audio commentary for this session can be found in a previous post.

The session mainly consisted of a face to face and simultaneous twitter discussion about using Web 2.0 technologies in teaching, particularly with regards to information literacy skills.

I don’t have a particular problem twittering while listening/discussing issues face to face. However,  it wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea and some people had problems hearing the face verbal discussion due to the tapping of keyboards and/or concentrating on the online discussion due to the amount of tangential “twittering”.

Some of the interesting points I picked up in the room and online were:

  • Web 2.0 tools used included a customised google search engine, wikis, and a pageflakes page for relevant journal links and RSS feeds. All bought together through the Blackboard VLE page for the course.
  • As the students saw each other daily anyway there was very little interaction online.
  • The custom search and the journal pages were very popular with the students.
  • The tutor saw an improvement in the quality of resources used.
  • suggests it’s best to integrate appropriate Web 2.0 info literacy tools within student courses.
  • Academis staff were offered library sessions on RSS and social bookmarking but take up was low – they didn’t come because they didn’t know how it would be useful?
  • The library needs to expand on our Web 2.0 knowledge and the support we offer – need web 2.0 evangelists?
  • More emphasis on evaluation – less on searching?
  • Issues to think about teaching: advanced google searching, specialist image/audio search engines, wikipedia, youtube as reference tool, RSS, blogs/blog searching, citing new types of resources and copyright/creative commons.

Posted in Meetings, RSS, Staff training, Training, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

The wheft and flow of Wikipedia

Posted by gazjjohnson on 5 January, 2009

Keith’s just passed me along a link to an article entitled “Who the hell writes Wikipedia“.  Well me for one, but I’d point you in the direction of the original article and encourage you to read it.

Wikipedia’s an old point of discussion among librarians.  There’s the debate I (and many other librarians) have had over the years around the conundrum “should we support the students in using wikipedia?”  That’s a broad question on which much has been written or said.  I’m certainly not going to try and answer it; other than to admit that since I use it and edit it I’d be a hypocrite not to point my students towards it (along with other resources).

I do have issues that the “encylopedia written by everyone” can boil down to “what’s commonly believed” in some cases (e.g. the whole word knows you can have your appendix removed but I’d only trust a handful of people to tell me how!), but used responsibly it’s great.

One thing that fascinates me about wiki though, is the living way in which it organically grows and develops.  As the article suggests many pages start out chaotic but overtime (and ignoring periodic vandalism) reach a certain homeostatic equilibrium.  While I was watching Celeb Big Brother last Friday* I had open the wiki page for the show and watched the page build itself, refine, develop, get vandalised and finally protected from further amendments by wiki editors.

That’s one of the things I love about Web 2.0 apps – watching information evolve before your eyes.  I’d love to study these patterns in more depth as I’m sure they’re able to tell us a lot about people’s information providing habits, not to mention their networking interactions.  But these days that’s more Alan’s remit than mine.

*Not from choice!

Posted in Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Wikipedia and Libraries

Posted by sarahw9 on 17 October, 2008

The many uses of Wikipedia to libraries is explored in Putting the Library in Wikipedia by Lauren Pressley and Carolyn J. McCallum. They begin by pointing out that people look to Wikipedia before looking at any traditional library resources on any topic, and that traffic to library websites it dimishing.

Yes we need get our heads together to look at ways to use Wikipedia.  There is the information literacy angle; there have been attempts to integrate it into information literacy education (getting students to edit pages) but with limited success as students often don’t like to do something so public.  There is also the idea of editing the University of Leicester entry, creating one for the library, working to get our collections in there.  Some of the logistical issues (such as not being ‘selfpromoting’) are considered in this article. 

It is also a big change of direction for libraries and librarians – actually going out, editing / creating material for the whole world to see in the name of their library.  Very web 2.0 in fact. 

Have I just got myself another job to do?!

Posted in Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »

Session for 1st Year Computer Scientists

Posted by selinalock on 21 August, 2008

As previously mentioned I’ll be doing a new session for 1st year computer scientists.

This is my draft session so far, feedback encouraged!

CO1007 Session: Finding, Collecting & Sharing Resources
• Session for approx 50 1st yr Com Sci students in wk 5 of term, based in a computer lab.
• To be taught via a wiki – a strategy used effectively by a colleague at Loughborough with 1st yr Comp Sci students.
• Wiki will allow online interaction between students during the session and hopefully promote reflective thinking.
• Library catalogue will be covered in normal 1st yr induction (10am Fri 3rd Oct), so this session will concentrate on online resources.

Activities/Prompts within the Wiki:

1. Wikipedia – what is it good for?
• Go to and search for Computer Ethics
• What do you find useful about Wikipedia? What are the problems with Wikipedia?
• You may find it useful to read – strengths, weaknesses & article quality in Wikipedia: • Post a Pro & Con to the wiki
o E.g. Pro: covers a huge amount of topics
o E.g. Con: only covers some topics superficially

2. What’s the best search engine for you?
• Use your favourite search engine to find information on plagiarism in computer science
• Why do you like this search engine? Did you find some useful results?
• Post your findings to the wiki
• Now try a different search engine, such as or, which are scholarly and scientific search engines.
• How did these search engines compare to your favourite? Did you find different results?
• Post your findings to the wiki

3. How do you collect and share resources with friends?
• Create an account on using your CFS username, in order to save links that are useful for this course.
• Go to my delicious account (need to create) and add me to your network.
• You will see I have tagged a number of resources CO1007, which I think you will find useful for this course.
• Add a resource you think will be useful to your account and tag it CO1007
• Post your delicious account name to the wiki so that others can add you to their network and vice versa
• Do you think it will be useful to build up a list of shared resources like this? Do you think you might use it for other courses?
• Post your thoughts/comments to the wiki
• Delicious is the most popular, but not the only, social bookmarking tool available. There are others that are aimed at researchers and scientists, such as and

4. An exercise on Google Reader?
5. An exercise on recommended journals?

Posted in Subject Support, Training, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Tagged: , , , , , , | 5 Comments »