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Wikipedia...a Research Tool...Really?

Wikipedia’s information utility is tied to the five C's it delivers - currency, coverage, comprehensibility, convenience, and credibility. Head and Eisenberg (2010) suggested, "Wikipedia’s hyper currency combined with a sheer range of coverage that is brief and easy to understand and access that makes Wikipedia useful and distinct from so many other sources...Wikipedia’s breadth of coverage is something that was unfathomable a short time ago." 

While Head and Eisenberg found credibility was less of a criterion for Wikipedia usage, as a 'pointing application' there are few to rival it. Rather that scouring online and offline libraries, and journal article repositories, a user can conduct a Wikipedia search for a topic which could produce dozens of scholarly articles and professional books and publications which were already mined and used to support the Wikipedia topic. Researchers who use Wikipedia to 'point' the way to peer reviewed articles, and other publications can save time and other resources, and achieve more with less.

A researcher need only locate the article referenced by the topic, and analyze it for themselves. Perhaps their analysis will agree with the Wikipedia author, or perhaps they will find a different take-away from the publication. Regardless, the researcher can cite the article as a source and never need mention how they were led to it. From this vantage point, Wikipedia is an attractive source for pointing researchers to information considered by mainstream academicians as validated sources.

Consider for example the term 'Boomerang.' A Wikipedia search would reveal 27 supported points of information for consideration (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boomerang) and the researcher can pick and choose which direction they wish to look to gain more knowlege. To be sure, current academic rigor largely shuns using Wikipedia itself as a source. But as a hound dog pointing the way to valuable information, it can be very effective.

Reference

Head, A., & Eisenberg, M. (2010). How today’s college students use Wikipedia for course-related research. First Monday, 15(3). doi:10.5210/fm.v15i3.2830
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Dr. Matthews

147 Practical Tips for Teaching Online Groups - review

Beginning with pre-instruction preparation and progressing through actual online teaching, 147 Practical Tips for Teaching Online Groups will help you feel more comfortable and competent heading into an online course, whether you're a new instructor or an experienced professor. The authors dispel popular myths in online education and anticipate the potential problems you might face teaching in the online medium. They also advise you on how to set up and implement your online course, and make the course discussions as interactive as those you have in the traditional face-to-face classroom setting.

If you're involved in web-based education — or if you're about to be — 147 Practical Tips for Teaching Online Groups Essentials of Web ­Based Education by: Donald E. Hanna, Michelle Glowacki ­Dudka & Simone Conceigao­ Runlee will become one of your most valued resources in your professional library.

For an overview of the tips, click on the image or use the link below to access a free PDF.


If you find this information useful, share it with your network of friends and colleagues who are interested in taking their online teaching to the next level.
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Dr. Matthews

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