The New York Times Learning Network has a wonderful lesson plan for students…Learning To Think Like Fact Checkers. Teachers can use this to teach students about what went wrong with the Wikipedia story.
Here are some of the questions they ask students to research, based on the article, Snared in the Web of Wikipedia by Katharine Seelye
d. What claim about Mr. Seigenthaler does Wikipedia also include in its biography of him?
e. How many people have written Wikipedia entries?
f. When was Wikipedia created and by whom?
g. Why did Mr. Wales create Wikipedia?
h. Is Wikipedia a success?
i. What “question” about Wikipedia lingers?
j. Could Mr. Seigenthaler identify his “biographer”?
k. Why wasn’t he able to?
l. How did Seigenthaler choose to respond ultimately?
I actually had several library students work collaboratively to answer these questions during a recent class session. It was interesting to hear their feedback. One student made a point to say, "how do we know this doesn't happen with other encyclopedias in print." I believe he was referring to the fact that there are so many research databases available and questioned the inability to "fact check" as quickly as was done with the Wikipedia entry. Another student said, "why should one jokester ruin the future reputation of Wikipedia." Ironically, Will Richardson has a similar post today.
Please share your own Wikipedia views.