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« Is viral marketing the same as word of mouth? | Main | The need to be right »

The wikipedia gap

I wonder who the first teacher was who said to his class, "Okay, we have ball point pens now. No need to use class time to learn how to use a fountain pen."

I heard from two people this week (one is 11, the other twice that) who were forbidden to use Wikipedia to do homework.

When I was in b-school, I admit that I discovered a shortcut. I had to write a long paper on Castro. I went to the magnificent Stanford library, found a great book on Castro, opened to the bibliography and found ten sources. Which I then laboriously paged through, spending hours and hours in order to find the facts I needed.

Then, facts in hand, I was able to do the actually useful part... I synthesized some new ideas and wrote a paper.

Apparently, going through the act of finding the books, sorting through them, reading a lot of chaff and eventually finding the facts is an essential skill for an 11-year-old kid. And for a college sophomore. Essential enough to be responsible for 80% of the time they spend on the work itself?

Selecting the facts is an important part of the process. Finding them shouldn't be.

I don't know about you, but when I hire someone, or go to the doctor or the architect or an engineer, I could care less about how good they are at memorizing or looking up facts. I want them to be great at synthesizing ideas, the faster and more insightfully, the better.

Until just recently, law students had to learn a painstaking process to look up cases by hand. No longer. The academy realized that teaching students to be great at Lexis was a smart idea.

Please don't tell me that Wikipedia isn't a real encyclopedia or one that can't be trusted. Perhaps it can't be trusted if you're prepping for a Presidential debate, but it is sure good enough to help me learn what I need to learn--which is how to quickly take a bunch of facts and turn them into a new and useful idea.

Here's what just about every exam ought to be: "Use Firefox to find the information you need to answer this question:" And as the internet gets smarter, the questions are going to have to get harder. Which is a good thing.

Until teachers get unstuck, our kids are going to be stuck and so will we.


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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The wikipedia gap:

» Wikipedia Ban? from Preaching to the Perverted
Apparently, there are schools or teachers that are forbidding students from using Wikipedia for researching homework assignments. Why they would do this is beyond me. Seth Godin brings up a good point: the way we find facts and informatio... [Read More]

» EducationToday from Dave's Weblog
Seth Godin posted a piece that hits upon the state of the classroom today. Its time for our educators to embrace the technologies that will not be going away any time soon. Teach students how to effectively use what is available to them to sup... [Read More]

» EducationToday from Dave's Weblog
Seth Godin posted a piece that hits upon the state of the classroom today. Its time for our educators to embrace the technologies that will not be going away any time soon. Teach students how to effectively use what is available to them to sup... [Read More]

» Somebody Has to Say It: Wikipedia vs schoolbozos from Follow the passion
Recently Ive been feeded by Seths post The Wikipedia gap. Gosh! Im fed up with the school bozos telling me that Wikipedia isnt suitable for academic purposes! Teachers forbid to use it.  They arguing that Wiki... [Read More]

» Wikipedia i skolen from Tversover
Seth Godin parkerer diskusjonen om Wikipedia i skolen: Å forstå og syntetisere informasjonen er viktig. Å finne den er ikke viktig, siden det nå kan automatiseres. Minner egentlig om et leserinnlegg fra en elev i Aftenposten som hadde brukt 15.000... [Read More]

» Bloom's Taxonomy from PERFECT PLACE TO LIVE
Is a useful tool for categorizing abstraction levels in education. Think of it as a chart ranging from "focused on details" to "looking at the big picture." Educator Benjamin Bloom devised the system, and you can learn more about him [Read More]

» The Wikipedia Gap from spincitydotorg
I think Godins missing the point. Its not that students shouldnt use Wikipedia to do their homework, its that students shouldnt cite wikipedia in their homework. Theres a big difference. Wikipedia is a great re... [Read More]

» Sometimes Wikipedia, Sometimes No from hexodus
Honestly, Wikipedia is fantastic. I use it almost every day. Often I need quick facts, figures and ballpark definitions. For this purpose, Wikipedia is indispensible. However, Seth Godin recently dismayed that: I heard from two people this week (one i... [Read More]

» Wikipedia and research from Removing All Doubt
Seth Godin is probably one of the smartest people out there. He posted the other day about using Wikipedia in academic settings, and once again he was right on. The entire post is worth reading, but here's a highlight:Please don't [Read More]

» Are You Innovating Wearing a Blindfold? from Innovating To Win
Do you ever feel like your design teams are groping around for ideas? If so, you are not alone. Many organizations don’t feel confident about their ideation capabilities. What I find interesting is how often corporate policies create barriers to [Read More]

» Education: To Find or To Know? from Sparks
There is a debate about whether students should be brought into the future, and educated with tests such as find this information on the internet, instead of rote memorization, for instance espoused in this Seth Godin post. ... [Read More]

» Words Of Wisdom From Seth Godin from The Profitable Business Edge 2
I read Seth Godins blog on a daily basisit is chock full of what I call real wisdom. Here are three posts in particular you should check out (clicking on each link opens it in a new window): The Wikipedia Gap The Need To Be ... [Read More]

» Wikipedia - A Means not an End from WOWNDADI
It was one of Seth Godins posts that kicked this thought chain off. Im a regular follower of his blog, and normally I nod sagely at his wisdom, but for once Im shaking my head furiously. Why? Because of the wikipedia gap. Im... [Read More]

» Thirty Three Things (v. 35) from the evangelical outpost
1. Does the Atheist Deny What the Theist Affirms? 2. What is Sin? "What is sin? It is often described as 'missing the mark'—that is, failure to live up to the rigorous standard of God's holy law. But the... [Read More]

» Traditional testing in the Wikipedia Era from Dan Romero
Seth Godin's recent post on the Wikipedia gap was quite interesting. And it got me thinking. In the real world, there are few, if any, times when a person has to do something completely from memory. If someone wants to... [Read More]

» Fact Finding vs. Learning from A Beginning Teacher
eth Godin gives me required daily reading. Today's post focuses on classroom bans on using Wikipedia for research. But, for as many classrooms that ban Wikipedia, I've seen teachers go against this grain and use it to make up for more than fear of th... [Read More]

» Lord Voldemort is not scary. from TOONE GUITARS
Dolores Umbridge however, is terrifying. I've seen Dolores, and she lives and works in the American public school system, dressed as a teacher, adminstrator, and social worker. Her evil is made possible through petty authority granted by compulsory att... [Read More]

» The wikipedia gap from wikipedia
Bookmarked your post over at Blog! [Read More]

« Is viral marketing the same as word of mouth? | Main | The need to be right »