In recent discussions of Wikipedia and other online research sources, a controversial issue has been whether students have the ability to evaluate the data they find correctly.  On the one hand, some argue that they don’t have these skills and should avoid questionable sites such as Wikipedia.  From this perspective, it is argued that students need to avoid these sites rather than learn how to filter out the factual information and the false findings online.  On the other hand, however, others argue that students are capable of this time of differentiation and we should be teaching them the tools in order to do so.  According to this view, students should be learning the same strategies we adults use on a daily bases in order to evaluate information.  In sum then, the issue becomes whether we should be teaching students these tools or not, to me this answer is obvious.

My own view is that not teaching the strategies to students would be a disservice and set them up for failure as they get older. We cannot send children out into the world without critical thinking skills or  the knowledge to question information.  Though I concede that it may be harder in the lower grade levels, I still maintain that it is important and something very much needed for 21st century learners.  For example, when people start believing everything they read online we create a generation of ignorant and gullible citizens. In addition, when students aren’t taught how to decipher a creditable source from a not, they are easily trapped in a small narrow group of resources when there are so many great tools out there for them to use.

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