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Proposal Suggests UK Students Study Wikipedia and Twitter 252

Posted by timothy
from the not-necessarily-so-crazy dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Who needs crusty old rubbish like the Victorian era or World War II? Instead, an Ofsted report leaked to The Guardian details of proposals to teach UK primary school children how to use Wikipedia, Twitter, podcasts and blogs. Presumably they're already au fait with b3ta and 4chan. And you already can't get the kids off Bebo without a crowbar."
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Proposal Suggests UK Students Study Wikipedia and Twitter

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  • Stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spad (470073) <slashdot@@@spad...co...uk> on Friday March 27, 2009 @05:02AM (#27354515) Homepage

    It's a stupid idea by people who are trying to appear "down with the kids". I can't think of anything worse to teach children than to use Wikipedia as a primary source of research and to use Twitter as a primary means of communication.

    IT teaching in schools needs to improve, but from a technical perspective, not by letting kids spend a couple of hours a week in school doing what they do at home every night anyway. Far more would be gained by teaching kids how to use and administer computers than simply jumping on whatever the current internet bandwagon is and letting kids arse around with it.

    • Re:Stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 27, 2009 @05:13AM (#27354559)
      Presumably, 'learning how to use Wikipedia' includes learning not to use it as a primary source.
    • Re:Stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Swizec (978239) on Friday March 27, 2009 @05:22AM (#27354601) Homepage
      It's stupid to teach kids to use Wikipedia for primary research. But it's paramount to teach them just WHY it shouldn't be their only source, because otherwise they'll reach high school and do all their research on wikipedia because it's easier. Hell, I'm in college these days and I still use it as my primary research tool and almost never look at secondary sources. This is mostly because throughout my schooling I have been taught that that one book, The Book, is all I need to pass. Then I found that everything that's in The Book is also on wikipedia, except in more detail.

      Similar goes for twitter and other social media. You want to Protect The Children? Don't keep them away from the internets, teach them how to tell foe from friend, teach them how to use it.

      No matter what you say or do. The Internets are a paramount part of our everyday lives and primary school was meant to teach people how to deal with their everyday surroundings. Back when we were young that meant learning to read books, now it means knowing how to tell a useful blog from SEO-ed crap.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by wisty (1335733)

        What's wrong with just teaching kids facts? Good, old fashion knowledge, that they can carry around in their heads. Stuff that they won't learn under their own steam.

        What is the competitive advantage of educators teaching kids thing that they will learn on their own, or in the workplace?

        • Re:Stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Xrikcus (207545) on Friday March 27, 2009 @06:30AM (#27354949)

          What facts do you choose to teach them? You want to teach children techniques, using which they can discover the facts they need in the future. You don't want to guess what those facts might be, and try to teach them directly. History lessons, for example, are not really about memorising the dates of battles, but about learning how to compare historical sources and extract information. What facts can you think of that are both important, and will not be learnt by the children on their own?

          • Re:Stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Nutria (679911) on Friday March 27, 2009 @09:17AM (#27356119)

            What facts do you choose to teach them?

            Multiplication tables, phonic and grammar rules, the US Civil War was from 1861-1864, the Sun is a star, etc, etc, etc ad nauseum.

            You want to teach children techniques, using which they can discover the facts they need in the future.

            Amazingly, it's possible to do both. But children need a foundation of knowledge upon which to build.

            Otherwise, instead of "standing on the shoulders of giants", each child must start at the ground floor, but that's not a recipe for progress.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Learning facts is a waste of brain capacity. Computers are perfect for storing facts, and quickly looking up the facts we need.

          The facts you need all the time will stick all by themselves - and the facts you need all the time are rarely the ones you were taught in school anyway. The facts you only use once are a waste, because they will take longer to learn, than to simply look them up. And all the rest - the ones you're never going to need - are nothing but waste.

          • Learning facts is a waste of brain capacity. Computers are perfect for storing facts, and quickly looking up the facts we need.

            That's assuming that you always have access to a computer. And that it will work where you are. And that it's batteries will last. And you have an internet connection. And that you know what you need to find out.

            Don't give me that "I've got an iPhone/whatever" response. How's that going to help you when you're down a mine and need a question answered? Or out at sea, and your boat is about to sink? Or there's a bush fire nearby which might be heading your way?

            The facts you only use once are a waste, because they will take longer to learn, than to simply look them up. And all the rest - the ones you're never going to need - are nothing but waste.

            The problem with that approach is that you never

            • Re:Stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

              by commodore64_love (1445365) on Friday March 27, 2009 @08:38AM (#27355743) Journal

              It was Albert Einstein himself who said there's no need to memorize that which you can look-up in a book. If we were alive today he's probably substitute "internet" for book, and last I heard he's a fairly intelligent guy who managed to accomplish a lot of work in his short time span.

              I agree with him. Why waste years of my life trying to memorize everything when I can simply pick-up a book or search the net or buy the necessary material from amazon.com, and find the answer. It's the same reason why I carry a calculator instead of trying to do square roots in my head.

              And of course when die, everything I memorized disappears. Better to leave the knowledge on paper or online, so it can be passed on.

        • Re:Stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

          by TapeCutter (624760) * on Friday March 27, 2009 @07:58AM (#27355447) Journal
          "What's wrong with just teaching kids facts? Good, old fashion knowledge, that they can carry around in their heads. Stuff that they won't learn under their own steam. What is the competitive advantage of educators teaching kids thing that they will learn on their own, or in the workplace?

          What's wrong with just teaching kids to research? Good, old fashion critical thinking, that they can carry around in their heads. A skill that they may never learn under their own steam. What is the competitive advantage of educators teaching kids things that they will look up on their own, even in the workplace?
        • Re:Stupid (Score:4, Insightful)

          by h4rm0ny (722443) on Friday March 27, 2009 @08:40AM (#27355775) Journal

          What's wrong with just teaching kids facts? Good, old fashion knowledge, that they can carry around in their heads. Stuff that they won't learn under their own steam.

          I'll tell you what's wrong with it. It's hard to teach. The degree to which children have successfully been taught the facts can be assessed and measured and inadequate schooling can thus be exposed.

          We need to shift away from traditional subjects that can be assessed formally and shift to trendier and woolier subjects that, ideally, children already know anyway. This way ever decreasing educational standards can be concealed because there are no previous examples to compare it against and there are no easy metrics with which to judge it. Also, facts can be used to contradict and disagree with the authoritative sources of opinions and beliefs that are handed down.

          THAT'S what's wrong with facts.

      • This is mostly because throughout my schooling I have been taught that that one book, The Book, is all I need to pass.

        I think the reason is bit more than that. Wikipedia makes information readily accessible. It's primary search engine (not itself) is the most used search--Google. Access to it is free and not encumbered by an interface that obfuscates information more than it reveals.

        If nothing else, so called 'reputable' and 'accurate' sources could increase their utility by simply making the information available in an easy way.

        The collective information and knowledge of humanity is incredible--it's just not readily ac

    • Next week (Score:2, Interesting)

      How to Google.

      This is just a joke to teach kids how to do things they already do. These days your kids know how to use your new DVD player or computer before you do. Ratherteach kids the meaning of the word "Library" and "citation needed" if they have to go the wikipedia way.

      Teaching them how to admin a linux VM would be more useful
      • Re:Next week (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ciderVisor (1318765) on Friday March 27, 2009 @05:55AM (#27354761)

        Teaching them how to admin a linux VM would be more useful.

        That's one end node of the tree of knowledge that is computer science / IT. Far better to teach kids how to research and in what situations Wiki and Google are invaluable.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          if os == unix:
            man(problem)
          else
            google(problem)
          else
            irc/forum/mailinglist/project wiki/paid support #p.s how did you get here
          fi

      • Re:Next week (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Racemaniac (1099281) on Friday March 27, 2009 @06:16AM (#27354901)

        you really think there are many people who know how to google?
        lots of people know me for being good at finding things with google, while imo it's just thinking of good keywords and look at the results to see how to modify your search

        and yet, it seems i hardly see any people capable of that, so if they could teach kids that google will only support you, and not magically give you an answer on everything from the first try with just about any keyword.

        Google will work great if you give it the additional knowledge and insight of your own brain, but by itself it's fairly weak. and it seems very few people seem to understand that...

        and frankly, why wouldn't it be good for the next generation to actually be good at finding information on the internet? it'll probably be even far more present than it is for us...

        • by Skylinux (942824) on Friday March 27, 2009 @07:10AM (#27355181) Homepage

          ohh you are so special!

          I always find what I want with Google, here is how I do it.

          1) I open the Internet and it always goes to Google for me, I think my son did that.
          2) I type ebay.com into the box on my screen and click "Google Search"
          3) tada .... Google found it, I click on the first link and I am there

          See, you are not the only who knows how to use Google

    • How is the OP a troll? I pretty much agree with the post from my perspectives as: a parent, a School Governor, a trainer and an Instructional Designer.

      Mods on crack or of school age today?

    • Teaching them to use wikipedia as a starting point for further reference would be a good idea. Teaching them to use it as a primary reference is stupid. What they should be doing is teaching them how to look up information. Then either a book or a computer could be useful. Unfortunately, as sites like letmegooglethatforyou prove, people are really bad at looking things up, so for most people learning to use wikipedia probably sounds hard.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Zumbs (1241138)

      There is nothing wrong in teaching kids how to use wikipedia ... provided they are also taught to be critical of what they read.

      For most regular school work (note:school, not university), the quality of wikipedia articles are reasonable. Compared to most school books, wikipedia entries often cite other articles for further reading. Many of these are even online, so the kids have access to those articles as well.

      It should, however, be linked with teaching kids how to use the internet for information search i

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 27, 2009 @06:44AM (#27355037)

      Teach them to read and write then you can teach then Genesis and Gospels. That's all they need to know. The real life isn't on earth.

    • Re:Stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mattwarden (699984) on Friday March 27, 2009 @07:57AM (#27355439) Homepage

      > IT teaching in schools needs to improve, but from a technical
      > perspective, not by letting kids spend a couple of hours a week
      > in school doing what they do at home every night anyway.

      Not every kid knows how to effectively use Wikipedia or Google for that matter. I did spend time learning how to effectively search Google (but that's because I'm a geek), and my high school and college study was more efficient worthwhile for it. Even today (3 years after grad), I often get comments like "I don't know how you find the answer to crap so fast" from colleagues. It's not a secret; it's effective use of the Web coupled with an understanding of how to corroborate information you've found.

      These are not "automatic" skills. The idea that you SHOULDN'T teach shit that is actually useful (ie, they do in their every day lives) is completely backwards.

      We would be much better off right now, for example, if there was a class in the curriculum about personal finance and money management. Everyone must manage money and make finance decisions on a daily basis, but MOST PEOPLE ARE IDIOTS when it comes to personal finance, and that has made the current crisis that much more painful and increased the need for reliance on government.

      But I guess if I'm broke because I have no savings and high debt, I can always fall back on my understanding of the functions of each organelle in the animal cell.

  • by Daimanta (1140543) on Friday March 27, 2009 @05:02AM (#27354519) Journal

    It's basically a blog for people who are not able to write enough good stuff for blogs.

    "I just took a dump" and other messages are basically the essence of Twitter and I can do exactly the same on a random IRC channel.

    Wikipedia on the other hand is more interesting because it shows what perception can do to people and how that combines to an article. I teaches checking the sources instead of simply copypasting your info(although some people still do that).

    Twitter has none of those redeeming values and is outside the study of microblogs or something similar(like speed of information) a completely useless research subject.

    • by Swizec (978239) on Friday March 27, 2009 @05:24AM (#27354607) Homepage
      Twitter is oh so much more than "I just took a dump" It's an Instant Messaging protocol.
      • by RMH101 (636144) on Friday March 27, 2009 @05:34AM (#27354651)
        Great. Another one. And the content is "I just took a dump". What's your point?
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Swizec (978239)
          My point is that isn't really teh content at all. Hell, most people don't even talk so much about what they're doing twitter as they are about more in-depth things, like how they feel for instance. Sharing interesting photos quickly is also quite popular, pasting that awesome link you just saw, but don't have anyone to show ... twitter will love it. And so on.

          Hell, just earlier this week I got a job offer because I was venting on twitter about how insanely unfair my project manager was being.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by linuxci (3530)

      I guess Twitter the service and Twitter the Slashdot user have something in common. They're both pretty pointless.

      There's a few people who can use Twitter well, but mostly it's just an overload of useless information. But some people seem lost without it.

    • by vivaoporto (1064484) on Friday March 27, 2009 @06:06AM (#27354839)
      One thing that intrigues me a lot is the number of mentions that service in getting in the media (even mainstream media) in the past weeks. Slashdot, for instance, along with this article has other two in the frontpage (Researchers Can ID Anonymous Twitterers [slashdot.org] and Build Your Own Open Source Twittering Power Meter [slashdot.org].

      But it is not only Slashdot. Lance Armstrong [go.com] is doing it, I heard about it the other day on television, something in the lines of "Lance Armstrong informed the public that it may miss the Giro using this novely service, Twitter". Actually, even Associated press "noticed the trend" (or is propagating a well thought press release, depending on what really happened) and released a list [google.com] with the nicknames of some of the celebrities that uses the service.

      That reminds me of what happened last year, lots and lots of stories (even on Slashdot) about Second Life, how people were making money on Second life, virtual property on Second Life, virtual child abuse on Second Life, and so on and so forth, lots of stories with several things in common: lots of mentions of the service name, stock footage of people using it, a long description of the service in question, fake and minor controversies.

      Sometimes I wonder if it is only a fad, a hype that is propagated naturally by the collective hysteria or if there are really people in the Marketing business powerful and competent enough to orchestrate a press campaign so pervasive and organic that looks like genuine public interest.
    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      Wikipedia I can understand, it is probably the most important website out there (IMHO)
      But twitter ? Everytime I read something about twitter I have the feeling that I missed something... I thought it was just a gimmick to enter a short message, timestamp it and put it on a website. Is there something I am missing ? Why is it called a social network ?
      • by Tony Hoyle (11698) *

        Most twitter access isn't via website.. it owes more to MSN I guess than blogs, except it's searchable and you can be friends with someone without them being friends with you back (in that sense it also behaves like RSS as well - I'm following several websites that way).

        I'm not sure what makes it so useful.. critical mass plays a huge part - once all your friends are on it to not be on it you're missing out. That was the same thing that made facebook popular before it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Locklin (1074657)

      Being able to use a wikipedia (as in edit) is also valuable to learn. There are plenty of times when a private wiki would be useful if everyone knew how to edit one, create pages, etc. Instead, we get masses of emails with hundreds of recipients and no organization.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Linker3000 (626634)

      Funny thing is, I ignored Twitter for a long time and then decided to give it a go. Sure a lot of the stuff is banal, but I found that if I used a selective, real-time filtering service such as Twitterfall, I can keep an eye out for things that are relevant to my interests - for example, I setup a few tech search terms: Centos, Linux, Asterisk, Draytek etc., and among other things, caught sight of someone mentioning a very useful script he had jusst finished for monitoring the state of SIP VoIP trunks, and

  • Learn how to learn (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wrook (134116) on Friday March 27, 2009 @05:19AM (#27354587) Homepage

    Well, I'm not really for skipping learning about WWII, but learning how to use Wikipedia and how to blog sound like excellent things to teach kids. Should we really teach kids that knowledge comes from a single authoritarian figure like a teacher, or should we tell them that they need to investigate numerous versions of the view of history?

    Learning how to use Wikipedia, including how to read the discussion page sounds fantastic. Take a topic, show how there are a lot of varied opinions about it. Show how consensus is formed and most importantly show that we can't always trust consensus.

    Blogging including micro-blogging like Twitter is also a very good idea. It's almost impossible to get kids to see the relevance of writing. Read some blogs. Show how poor writing makes someone look like an idiot. Show how good writing makes someone look smart.

    Now granted, they probably won't teach it like that. But they *could* and I think it would be a very good idea.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by 91degrees (207121)
      They'll get round to the Second World War later on when they're at an age to study it with better understanding. It's not being skipped. Just delayed.
      • by Chrisq (894406) on Friday March 27, 2009 @07:10AM (#27355183)

        They'll get round to the Second World War later on when they're at an age to study it with better understanding. It's not being skipped. Just delayed.

        Thank god for that. I was beginning to worry that future generations of "England" football fans would not know what to chant in the England vs Germany matches.

    • by linuxci (3530)

      The internet is probably the last place you'd want to use to teach someone the importance of good writing. The amount of people who think it's cool to type in text speak, deliberately spell certain words incorrectly and various forms of leet speak mean that kids will think that a good writing style doesn't matter.

      Add to that the differences between US and UK English, also entries posted by non-native English speakers it's certainly possible that relying too much on the internet will affect a students writin

      • by xaxa (988988)

        Back in my GCSE days I got an A in English. I really do believe since then my English skills have suffered immensely from reading a lot of online forums.

        Point taken, since I think you made at least three errors in your post, the worst is "student's writing skills"

        I got an A too. I think my written English has suffered because
        1a) I don't read anywhere near as much fiction as I used to.
        1b) I didn't read much good quality non-fiction, like a decent newspaper. I read BBC News online too much, and their target reading age is quite low.
        2) I often don't bother to expand my vocabulary. If I come across a word whose meaning I'm unsure of, I ignore it.
        3) No one puts

      • *shrug* GCSE English Language has about as much to do with writing and in using your own language skills as maths does. 50% of my marks came from re-entering the same coursework as I did for English Literature. Being able to disassemble and critique someone else's writing does not teach you how to work with the language yourself.

    • by Candid88 (1292486)

      OK, I see in the report where they suggest increasing student exposure to new media entities such as Twitter and Wikipedia, but where exactly is the bit about cutting history subjects?

      This seems to have been an element invented by reporters to make a good story.

      • by smoker2 (750216)
        Not only that but I don't remember having history lessons at primary school anyway. Maths and English and physical and music but no specific history. All that came at secondary school (11 years and up). It was a fair while ago though (1970s).
    • Or perhaps we should teach kids about libraries. Where dozens of books are found on the same subject, each with a different view. Not constrained by size or editors who insist that their view is the neutral view.

      Libraries, Wikipedia without the trolls, random edits and shallowness of the net. An amazing invention and they are right there in your neighbourhood.

      Wikipedia is a tool, but don't pretend that it is any more then an extremely shallow encyclopedia. This is important. If you want to know about a su

  • by abigsmurf (919188) on Friday March 27, 2009 @05:26AM (#27354619)

    Kids need better practical web education. They need to know that a prince in Nigeria isn't going to give them $1m, that the 11 year old girl who wants to meet them in a quiet street at 9pm alone probably shouldn't be trusted.

    From keeping online and offline persona seperated to avoiding libel on forums there proper nettique needs to be addressed in education. When I was at school pretty much the only 'how to act on the net' education we got was "if you use capitals, it looks like you're shouting". Of course that was a time when few people were on the net as you were charged by the minute.

    • by ciderVisor (1318765) on Friday March 27, 2009 @06:05AM (#27354831)

      the 11 year old girl who wants to meet them in a quiet street at 9pm alone probably shouldn't be trusted.

      Shit, now you tell me ! :(

    • by smoker2 (750216)

      Kids need better practical web education. They need to know that a prince in Nigeria isn't going to give them $1m, that the 11 year old girl who wants to meet them in a quiet street at 9pm alone probably shouldn't be trusted.

      None of this is new. I remember back when CB radio was a fad in the UK, I was chatting to a girl and arranged to meet in town. She told me she was 14, but she looked barely 12 when I met her, so we spent a boring hour in the arcades and then went our separate ways. I was 14 or 15 at the

  • When I Was a Lad... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Quothz (683368) on Friday March 27, 2009 @05:46AM (#27354709) Journal

    Y'know, when I was a schoolkid, we were required to keep a daily journal in some English classes. I don't see a fundamental difference between that and blogging as a method of developing writing skills.

    We were also taught how to use encyclopedias, and allowed to use them as source material. Given that the error-per-word rate in Wikipedia is lower than Encyclopedia Britannica, I see nothing wrong with using it. Better, Wikipedia lists primary sources, something I don't recall from ink-and-paper encyclopedias. Teaching kids to use it well seems like a fine idea to me.

    Twitter and podcasts? Not so much. I don't see the educational value in these. I could see a school doing a podcast as a class project, I s'pose, but as part of a formal curriculum?

  • Like anything else in life, kids learn more by observing the actions of the people important to them, than by what they might say.

    If dad is helping with a homework assignment and his first instinct is to go to Wikipedia, then that behaviour will be picked up on. A generation ago, adults might have looked up the family encyclopedia or gone down to the local library to get info. Now, that course of action might seem like the 'proper', old-skool way to go about things but just consider how limited those resour

  • I like this! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Cornwallis (1188489) * on Friday March 27, 2009 @06:01AM (#27354811)
    Completely disconnect kids from reality AND factual history and you've got a guaranteed pliable population. Works for me.
  • Brilliant idea. Yeah, because kids are well-known to have trouble embracing new technology. Most of them can't even use FaceBook and have to get their grandparents to do it for them.

    What next? Skipping rope lessons? Running and screaming lessons? Dipping a ball in dogshit and throwing to someone lessons?

    Those who do not learn from History are condemned to repeat its mistakes. But of course, they won't know that.

    • by Locklin (1074657)

      Knowing the latest cool buzz websites and understanding how to use technological tools effectively and responsibly for a productive purpose are two entirely different things.

  • Fantastic idea! Since they gave up teaching children grammar, spelling, written communication skills, good manners, literacy and so on, this at least gives them something to do during all the free time they now have.

    I just thank deity that my children are not in the UK...

  • If this practice were instituted in the U.S., American school kids would be able to get more out of NPR's Talk of the Nation Science Friday.

  • by tobe (62758) on Friday March 27, 2009 @07:25AM (#27355249)
    This is pretty ridiculous. As if these kids don't already know all about these services and have used them more than their tutors.

    'And this is Twitter.. it's an instant messaging protocol that allows us to share our thoughts and dreams with the world. Isn't that marvellous, children."

    "Nah miss.. it's just a way for me to chat shit to my mates, innit. Look.. it's on my phone."
  • Primary school pupils should learn how to blog and use internet sites like Twitter and Wikipedia [today.com] and spend less time studying history, says a review of the primary school curriculum in England by Sir Jim Rose of Ofsted.

    Students will also be required to familiarise themselves with podcasts, the iTunes store, the Pirate Bay, b3ta and 4chan. They will gain fluency in handwriting and keyboard skills and learn how two use a spell chequer proper Lee. Literature classes will involve young adult novels written en

  • However, the draft plans will require children to master Twitter and Wikipedia

    What kid isn't going to learn how to use Twitter (or whatever) on their own? So what is the point of devising and delivering curriculum that kids don't need to learn, because they've learnt it already on their own?

    Wow - next we'll be teaching them how to breath and walk.

    As a side note, by the time the Twitter curriculum is ready to go, Twitter will be passe and The Next Big Thing will be hip. Internet service popularity moves faster than the speed of curriculum development, at least in my experience.

  • Teach them how to use Tor, OTR and PGP encryption, as well as basic counter-surveillance. The way our privacy laws are going, they're going to need it.

The 11 is for people with the pride of a 10 and the pocketbook of an 8. -- R.B. Greenberg [referring to PDPs?]

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