After reading Wittenberg (2007), Lorenzo (2007), and Garfinkel (2008) the two take-home messages for my work as a Teacher Librarian are that students (as we have known for a while) are using the net and Google search as their go-to for information research, and their research often leads them to Wikipedia. And also the changing forms of determining credibility for online content and research and how this affects students’ information habits.
As only 2 per cent of students use library websites as the source to begin an information search and more than half believe information from search engines is at the same level of trust-worthiness as library information (Lorenzo, 2007, p. 2), we as TLs need to guide students in selecting and evaluating the information they find (Wittenberg, 2007) and give students the tools to evaluate Wikipedia pages through cross checking. The old days of a published paper being first extensively peer-reviewed before it ever reaches the user is disappearing, and users themselves are becoming the peer-reviewer (Wittenberg, 2007) or trusting more diverse sources to determine credibility (Lorenzo, 2007).
As TLs we shouldn’t shun Wikipedia use by students as it reflects the changing trend in information access where learning has become a process of participation in a community rather than of receiving knowledge from an ‘expert’ (Wittenberg, 2007) but we should make students aware of how Wikipedia’s policies can affect content and potentially its credibility (Garfinkel, 2008).
The mistake to make about students who have grown up in the world of internet research is that they innately have the skills necessary to swim in the online world and extract credible information from the meaningless. But this isn’t the case (Lorenzo, 2007, p. 3). Students need to be taught online researching skills, just as they needed to be taught library researching skills before the invention of the internet. And these researching skills need to be based around the way they want to researching, and this just happens to be with Google search and Wikipedia.
Garfinkel, S. (2008). Wikipedia and the meaning of truth. Technology Review, 111(6), 84-86. Retrieved from MasterFILE Premier database. Available http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=f5h&AN=35342513&site=ehost-live
Lorenzo, G. (2007). Catalysts for change: Information fluency, Web 2.0, Library 2.0, and the new education culture. (March). Retrieved from http://www.edpath.com/images/IFReport2.pdf
Wittenberg, K. (2007). Credibility of content and the future of research, learning, and publishing in the digital environment. The Journal of Electornic Publishing, 10(1). Available http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=jep;cc=jep;rgn=main;view=text;idno=3336451.0010.101