Defining 21st Century Learning

In recent discussions of the use of Wikipedia, a controversial issue has been whether using the informational website in schools should be allowed for credible research. On the one hand, some argue that Wikipedia is unreliable. From this view, people only see that people can post anything about the subject, without approval of the website. On the other hand, however, others argue that having multiple sources of information decreases the chances of having biased facts. According to this view, when you can have more than one person giving information, you have a better chance of being more accurate. In sum then, the issue is whether to disregard Wikipedia altogether because of the chance of incorrect information, or to utilize it for its unique, multiple-editor, research tool.

My own view is that Wikipedia is an excellent research engine. Though I concede that anyone can post to any given topic, and they may be incorrect, I still maintain that even when something wrong is uploaded, the team that runs Wikipedia has to be able to find these errors and fix them as soon as possible. For example, on Wikipedia, you are able to see how many/who has posted to the specific topic, and if the Wikipedia site has either confirmed it or corrected it. Although some might object that the people of Wikipedia can find all the errors in the gigantic website where there is constant adding of information, I would reply that teachers should also use tools of their own to help their students know what kind of information is credible and what is not. The issue is important because the internet is full of inaccurate information, and the art of being able to decipher from what is real and not is going to be a skill that everyone participating in the 21st century needs to learn.


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