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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-08-22

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-06-13

  • @mpascoe Thanks for pointing that out, here’s the link #
  • Tech-savvy doctoral students increasingly look to open web technologies (prev tweet has broken link) #
  • @mpascoe wrt students and lecture capture, study was done by a company selling devices for lecture capture…have to wonder about results #
  • One year on « The Thesis Whisperer Interesting comments on what research students came looking for #
  • @sportsdoc_chris Thanks for the FF #
  • @simtho001 Who’s giving the course? What you covering? Would love to know what you thought of it when you’re done #
  • @romieh Great question. On looking further, it seems that the paper was released by a company specialising in lecture capture! #skeptical #
  • BioMed Central Blog : Exploiting the advances of multimedia technology in medical publishing #
  • BioMed Central Blog : Bringing open access to Africa: BioMed Central announces far-reaching program #
  • Cultivate your Personal Learning Network #
  • Who Really Owns Your Photos in Social Media? #
  • Students Rank Lecture Capture ‘Most Important’ Blended Learning Resource #
  • Tech-savvy doctoral students increasingly look to open web technologies #
  • Why Augmented Reality Is Poised To Change Marketing #
  • Periodic Table welcomes two new, ultraheavy elements, jury still out on the names #
  • United Nations Proclaims Internet Access a Human Right #
  • Daily Papert Many do not appreciate fully the ways in which digital media can augment intellectual productivity #
  • @RonaldArendse need something to do while waiting for kettle to boil 🙂 #
  • Pic du Midi de Bigorre cloudy Wikimedia Commons.jpg [POTD for June 08 from] #
  • Pic du Midi de Bigorre cloudy Wikimedia Commons.jpg [POTD for June 08 from] #
  • Scottish university to introduce comic studies degree #
  • Wikipedia Is “Making the Grade” With More & More Academics #
  • A few improvements to discussions in Google Docs #
  • UCT open educational resource wins 2011 Award for OpenCourseWare Excellence #
  • Introducing: Zotpress Pulling Zotero libraries into WordPress blogs #
  • Daily Papert Children’s thinking “has its own kind of order and its own kind of logic” #
  • Technology in Schools: Local fix or Global Transformation? : The Daily Papert #
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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-04-18

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-01-10

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-03-29

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Wikipedia as a credible source?

I was recently asked about my views on the credibility of Wikipedia as  an academic resource, and soon realised that the question isn’t an easy one to answer. Since Wikipedia was launched in 2001, academics have generally decided that it’s suspicious at best, and many responded to students’ use of it with blanket bans on the site. I’m not going to try and weigh in on that debate here, or to cover it’s history, except to mention the Nature study that compared Wikipedia to Britannica (here’s an in-depth summary of the controversy that emerged). You can also read about the reliability of Wikipedia, but you have to make up your own mind about the credibility of articles about Wikipedia that are created using Wikipedia. My comments are around the use of Wikipedia as a source of content, and not as a platform for discussion or collaborative learning, and to take it further, I’m only considering the encyclopedia, and not any other associated Wikimedia properties.

I think it’s difficult to talk about the academic credibility of Wikipedia in general, only to say that some articles are brilliant, and others not so much. It’s kind of like saying that some cars are more fuel efficient than others, or that some teachers are better than others. Wikipedia is a collection of articles that have many, many authors of diverse backgrounds and motivations, and some of those articles are credible, while others are not. I personally encourage the use of any resource that can help my students, either as a starting point, or as a primary source that can be referenced.

The key (in my view anyway) is in teaching students and colleagues how to tell the difference between something that can serve as background information, and something that is an authoritative, credible voice. This in itself is a problem because articles on Wikipedia are composed of many voices, and so make authorship impossible to establish. Traditionally, academics have valued the voice of an expert who has been established over time through peer-reviewed publication. They find it hard to accept that the group may be just as credible as the individual.

In the previous paragraph I mentioned the importance of also teaching colleagues how to recognise  online credibility because I’ve found that they generally fall into one of two camps:

  • Everything online is true, because it’s online
  • Everything online is false, because it’s online

I don’t know how to get around this.

There’s also a psychological block against the fact that it can be edited by anyone. There’s an assumption that because an article can be corrupted by vandals, it will. An analogy would be to assume that everyone in a restaurant is armed and dangerous because they have a knife and should be locked in cages to prevent them from harming other customers. My response is to highlight the advantages of the “anyone can edit it” approach, and take a phrase from open source software development: “With many eyes, all bugs are shallow”, meaning that when enough people are looking at a problem, it becomes easier to solve. Mistakes are corrected and the resource grows more quickly than if the system was built around bureaucratic bottlenecks.

In conclusion, I would suggest that the tools you choose as an academic should depend on what your objectives are. If you’re looking to “prove” that Wikipedia should / could be used, it’d be easy to find a very credible article as an example. But that would be a weak argument because someone else will just as easily find a terrible article. I try to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of Wikipedia (or any other online resource) and let people make their own decisions. I used to try and convince people of the error of their ways but quickly realised that they often weren’t ready to listen. I got a great comment on another post that spoke about “warming people up to the concept”, which is really what we need to be doing. This is a not a shock and awe campaign, it’s a stealth mission using guerilla warefare.

I guess that in response to the question, I’d say it’s a bit like Schrodingers cat in that Wikipedia both is, and at the same time, isn’t, credible as an academic resource. You have to open the box to find out.

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-02-22

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Chromium: changing the default keyword search

I just came across a pretty cool feature of Chromium…keyword searches.  I know that this idea isn’t new, and now that I know about it, it’s clearly documented in the Google Chrome help pages, but I’ll put up some screenshots anyway.

You begin by typing the URL of the site you’re going to (Chromium will suggest the search you might be looking for):


Press Tab to bring up the site specific search option in the address bar:


Chromium will a few suggestions that might be useful to you:


I noticed that Chromium tells you it’s using a keyword to make the suggestion, which made me think that there must be a way to edit your preferences for what the keyword for each site should be.  A short search later showed that it’s actually pretty easy (although not necessarily intuitive) to edit the keywords.  Right click anywhere in the address bar and choose “Edit search engines”.  In the screenshot below you can see that I’ve changed my keyword for a Wikipedia search from, to wp.


You can find some more useful tips on working with Chromium at The power users guide to Google Chrome, from Lifehacker.