Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Yahoo! Answers: Teachers' Nightmare or Blessing?

From Slate:

The blockbuster success of Yahoo! Answers is all the more surprising once you spend a few days using the site. While Answers is a valuable window into how people look for information online, it looks like a complete disaster as a traditional reference tool. It encourages bad research habits, rewards people who post things that aren't true, and frequently labels factual errors as correct information. It's every middle-school teacher's worst nightmare about the Web.

This highlight the need to enable our students to be able to distinguish between correct and accurate information from false, incorrect or deceptive information. Teachers are no longer the gate-keeper of information. Instead, teachers should aim to help students develop critical analytical skill to handle the vast amount of information available.

Instead of asking students to provide information to some traditional essay type paper, why can't we ask the students to identify incorrect or misleading information from sources such as Yahoo!Answers. Is it a much more valid exercise?

Yahoo!Answers may be a nightmare for the librarians, for the creative teachers, it may be a blessing - a prefect opportunity to let students exercise their critical and analytical skills in processing information.


japhyr said...

I think it might be a good idea that students, all the way from elementary school to graduate school, include with their research papers a brief explanation of how they found their information. Citations are great, but how many teachers examine citations? You're right, we need to focus on the skill of critically examining information.

Administrator: Albert Ip said...

Thank you japhyr.

Citation is the first step to be able to critically evaluate information. Source of the information is definitely very important to evaluate the validity and authority of the information. One of the other aspects is to evaluate the motive of the information provider and its independence, which is a much more difficult job for students to understand and master.