28 May 2008

Entry for June 20, 2007

Entry for June 20, 2007
When I was in college working on my degree in history I had to take a class called "Doing History." This course taught many of the techniques and idiosyncrasies of researching and writing about historical topics. I remember one assignment was in the library looking up different forms of resources to answers questions in the assignment.I thought a couple hours would be more than plenty to complete the assignment. HA! Several hours on a couple days were needed! The Internet is so easy and quick BUT to get a true perspective on a topic one must read scholarly journals, books, primary documents and do interviews.
I minored in Library Science and one class I had was an independent study class. I had to do research in scholarly journals on various topics related to computers and library users. One assignment I did was about two high school classes doing research papers. One class was taken to the library and given no specific instructions on what sorts of resources they were to look up. Most of the students headed for the computers and were easily sidetracked. The other class was given specific instructions on what sorts of print information to look for and were not to use the computers other than for the library's catalog. Needless to say, the second group was noticeably more productive than the first.
You may be asking why I wrote about this today. Well, I have been reading articles about a new alternative to Wikipedia called Conservapedia . You may be wondering about why a new alternative to Wikipedia is needed. One attraction to Wikipedia is that fact that anyone can contribute to it and is not required to submit inclusions under a "real" name. This is also a very real weakness. Conservapedia will require contributors to use their real names. My concerns over both of these sources is the quality control of the articles. What is the possiblity that a high school student has submitted an article on quantum physics? No matter how knowledgeable he may be, there is no way he could be an expert on this subject. From my experiences in acadamia the college/university instructors I've had never accepted encyclopedias (in ANY form) nor excessive amounts of Internet sources as acceptable bibliography entries so students are becoming a bit slack in developing their paper writing skills.
Give print sources a chance. I have found that researching in a library is as addictive as surfing the Net. Give it a try, you'll see!
Here are some interesting articles for you to peruse. Conservapedia article Article about Internet use in education Professor bans Wikipedia use
Caveat Emptor!!!
(Originally posted on my Yahoo 360 blog)

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