In the media
Students' use and perception of Wikipedia
Students' use and perception of Wikipedia
Monash University Menzies Building
The Australian ("Wikipedia not destroying life as we know it", February 11) and Times Higher Education ("Wikipedia should be 'better integrated' into teaching", February 10) reported on a recent study performed at Monash University, titled "Students’ use of Wikipedia as an academic resource – patterns of use and perceptions of usefulness".
Based on a survey of over 1,650 students at two unnamed Australian universities, the study found that students generally viewed Wikipedia only as an "'introductory and/or supplementary source of information' [...] of limited usefulness compared with university library resources, e-books, lecture recordings and academic literature databases". Seven out of eight students said they used Wikipedia, but only 24 percent of respondents classified Wikipedia as "very useful", meaning it ranked below "learning management systems, internet search engines, library websites, videos and Facebook" in students' assessments, but above "other university websites", "educational games and simulations" and Twitter.
Commenting on students' usage patterns, the study's lead author, Neil Selwyn, said that Wikipedia did not make students lazy: lazy Wikipedia use, where it did occur, probably just reflected those students' pre-existing working modes: "Students are finding ways to use Wikipedia that fit with their broader study habits. High-achieving students are using Wikipedia in a way that helps them continue to be high achieving."
Selwyn also noted that the early years' "hype and excitement" about Wikipedia's role in higher education had given way to a kind of "mundane domestication":
||The early alarmist fears that Wikipedia would lead to a dumbing down of university study was not apparent, but neither is Wikipedia ushering in a new dawn of enlightenment and students and teachers creating their own knowledge.
Noting the disparity between reader and editor numbers, Selwyn described Wikipedia editing as "an incredibly closed shop" and said that Wikipedia content in his academic discipline remained woefully inadequate:
||[Wikipedia contributors] tend to be white, North American, of a certain age, (and) male. Which is why, when you look at things like comic books or computer games, the information on Wikipedia is brilliant. And when you look at my own area of educational sociology, it’s shocking.
Selwyn concluded that in order to remedy these quality defects, universities should be getting more engaged, given that "Something like Wikipedia is going to be a constant presence over the next few decades".
||There are clearly many ways in which universities need to engage more directly in supporting and enhancing the role that Wikipedia is now playing in students’ scholarship. [...] Lecturers should be encouraging their classes to edit and improve Wikipedia pages. At the very least, more academics should become Wikipedia editors – writing on their areas of expertise.
The study was funded by the Australian government’s Office of Learning and Teaching and will be published in the journals Studies in Higher Education and the Journal of Higher Education Policy & Management. A.K.
Are Pakistan articles being manipulated?
In the Daily Times, Yasser Latif Hamdani writes about efforts engaged in "Manipulating the Pakistani narrative" (February 17). Hamdani charges
||It is clear that our deep state is obsessed with controlling information and moulding it to fit its narrative. On Wikipedia, a number of 'users' and 'editors' have been planted to ensure that only Pakistan's official stance or the Nazaria-e-Pakistan [ideology of Pakistan] is reflected in the pages on Pakistan. Consequently, the pages on Pakistan's history read like a secondary school Pakistan Studies textbook... All alternative views on Pakistan's constitution, role of religion and federalism are stifled by this group...If one were to venture a guess it would be that these manipulators of the Pakistani narrative on sites like Wikipedia and others are operating out of some nondescript building in Islamabad's G sectors [where Pakistani intelligence agencies are located].
Hamdani writes that "Even Jinnah's famous August 11 speech is censored with Jinnah's page — a featured article — making no reference to it at all." The article Muhammad Ali Jinnah does mention the speech and link to the article about it. Hamdani told the Signpost:
||The relevance of the 11 August speech pertains to Mr. Jinnah's comments regarding Hindus ceasing to be Hindus and Muslims ceasing to be Muslims, "not in a religious sense, but as citizens of a state" are the relevant portions because in it the founding father of Pakistan was declaring that religious affiliations would not determine the citizenship rights. This is a significant statement which has often caused a lot of consternation for Pakistan's ruling elite which wants to establish an Islamic polity. This particular part is not reflected in the current article nor is it reflected anymore in the 11th August speech article...So while I stand corrected that there is a reference to the 11 August speech, it is not the main reference for which the speech is significant i.e. which is that religion would not be a determining factor for citizenship. The quote that is there right now is merely a quote on religious freedom.
Hamdani named to the Signpost several editors whom he accused of being part of this manipulation effort. One of those editors denied to the Signpost these accusations and alleged that Hamdani had "defamed" him as a result of the deletion of the Wikipedia article about Hamdani.G
Conferences and editathons
The Irish Times reports on a February 14 workshop for new Wikipedia editors held by Wikimedia Community Ireland at the National Museum of Ireland's Collins Barracks. The workshop focused on Ireland and World War I in conjunction with the Museum's exhibition Recovered Voices: the Stories of the Irish at War, 1914-15.
Art+Feminism editathons were again in the news. The Daily reports on the Valentine's Day "I Love to You" editathon at the University of Washington, named for a phrase from French feminist Luce Irigaray. Creative Dundee reports on the upcoming March 6 editathon at the University of Abertay.
The Hindu reports (February 16) on a two day gathering of editors on the Telugu Wikipedia to celebrate its 11th anniversary. 55 of that Wikipedia's 80 active editors attended. G
- Classroom tips: The Chronicle of Higher Education offers five tips on "Integrating Wikipedia in Your Courses" (February 18).G
- General notability guidelines: NPR reviews (February 17) Laura van den Berg's new novel Find Me and notes that the protagonist laments "No one will ever write a Wikipedia page for me."G
- You only die twice: The Daily Telegraph and The Independent reported on (February 16) "a tidal wave of sadness" that engulfed Twitter over the weekend regarding the death of beloved English artist and children's television presenter Tony Hart. Numerous Twitter users posted a link to an obituary from The Guardian without noticing that it was dated 2009, the date of Hart's actual death. The two newspapers noted Wikipedia was also affected: on Monday two different IP editors "corrected" the date of death from 2009 to 2015.G
- Tell me sweet little lies: In The New York Times, Bill Adair, founder of PolitiFact, and Maxime Fischer-Zernin detail some of "The Lies Heard Round the World" (February 15) in 2014. One of them was uttered at an October rally at the Circus Maximus by Italian politician Alessandro Di Battista, vice president of the Committee on Foreign Relations in the Chamber of Deputies and leading figure in the Five Star Movement. He claimed "Nigeria, you can read about it on Wikipedia: 60 percent of its territory is controlled by Boko Haram, the remaining part is Ebola." While the terrorist group Boko Haram does control a huge swath of Nigerian territory—some 50,000 square kilometers—in and around Borno State, it does not even control the entire state, which is one of 36 states of Nigeria. During the 2014 Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa, Nigeria had only 20 cases of and 8 deaths from Ebola. The bulk of the epidemic, about 23,000 cases, was in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, over 2000 km away. The Italian factchecking website Pagella Politica gave this statement the "Insane Whopper of the Year" award.G
- Lights out: Pulse Ghana reports (February 14) that the word dumsor now has a Wikipedia article, created on February 8. Dumsor is a combination of the Twi words for "off" and "on" and is used to describe the problems which have plagued Ghana's electrical power grid since 2007. The article concludes "this might not be something we can be proud off but we have to live with it as we grow has a nation."G
- The Wikipedia Games: The Wall Street Journal reports (February 13) that in Mark Doten's new dystopian novel The Infernal, Jimmy Wales is not the founder of Wikipedia, but "the inventor of the Omnosyne, a torture device that extracts information from victims before uploading it into a world network of knowledge called the Memex." Guernica offers an excerpt from the novel. G
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