Friday, 19 March 2010

How do students use Wikipedia?

It's no great surprise that a lot of students use Wikipedia as part of the research process and also not surprising that teachers generally discourage its use. It's easy, has very broad subject coverage and ranks VERY highly in Google searches...but how do students actually use it when researching for an assignment?
Stephen Abram has a post linking to a new paper that is based on research on a group of US college students. The conclusions:

1. Students’ driving need for background context makes Wikipedia one of the predictable workarounds that many students use, especially during the first stages of their research process.
2. Course–related research may begin with Wikipedia, but it rarely ends there. In our study, students employed a complex information problem strategy in their research processes, reliant on a mix of information resources that were from scholarly sources and public Internet sites.
3. In our study, we found the combination of coverage, currency, comprehensibility, and convenience drives Wikipedia use, in a world where credibility is less of a given — or an expectation from students — with each passing day.
4. Overall, college students use Wikipedia. But, they do so knowing its limitation. They use Wikipedia just as most of us do — because it is a quick way to get started and it has some, but not deep, credibility.

There's also some discussion about what the opportunities are here for librarians and educators. The full article:

Friday, 12 March 2010

Britain: The Disgrace of the Universities

A link to a thought provoking, if pessimistic article by Anthony Grafton on the New York Review of Books Blog about the changes going on in University funding and research priorities in the UK, specifically a systematic underfunding of slow, serious humanities research and teaching. From the comments it sounds like this is something being felt around the world. Interesting to read a couple of comments dismissing what we would call "learning hubs".

"Administrators have responded not by resisting, for the most part, but by trying to show that they can “do more with less.” To explain how they can square this circle, they issue statements in the Orwellian language of “strategic planning.” A typical planning document, from King’s College London, explains that the institution must “create financially viable academic activity by disinvesting from areas that are at sub-critical level with no realistic prospect of extra investment."

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Review of a new book about the value of librarians

Review of a new book about the value of librarians.

This book is overdue: how librarians and cybrarians can save us all by Marilyn Johnson.

'Like Henriette Avram, the heroes of “This Book Is Overdue” are resolutely high-tech, engaged in “activist and visionary forms of library work.'

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

eBooks for kids?

I find it hard to imagine picture books being replaced by eBooks, or at least that they would be the last to move over to an electronic platform, but after watching this video of a presentation from Penguin about what they have planned for the iPad, I'm not so sure.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Marshall Breeding on the future of Library Systems

This has already appeared on the Library News blog, but it can't hurt to publicise it in one more place, can it?

UTAS Library recently hosted Marshall Breeding, who was a keynote speaker at the VALA conference in Melbourne. Marshall Breeding is the Director for Innovative Technologies and Research for the Jean and Alexander Heard Library at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, and is a prolific writer and speaker on library technology.

With Marshall’s kind permission we have made his talk available for online viewing and download.

Click here to open the Lectopia page to watch Marshall’s lecture:

For more information, look at Marshall's profile page at Vanderbilt University, which has links to many of his publications.