[extropy-chat] Education monopolies [was: Education in 2030]

Ben Goertzel ben at goertzel.org
Sat Jan 27 22:12:30 UTC 2007

The issue with Wikipedia is that random people can edit it and insert  
incorrect information.  The incidence of this is low but not zero,  
and I bet the error rate in Wikipedia is higher than in conventional  

If I were a professor these days, I would allow students to cite  
Wikipedia as a general principle, but ask them to cite more reliable  
sources for highly critical pices of information...

-- Ben

On Jan 27, 2007, at 5:03 PM, Robert Bradbury wrote:

> I was struck recently by:
> "Professors to Ban Students From Citing Wikipedia" [1].
> Now the question arises is the information in Wikipedia "bad" or is  
> it simply incompletely edited?  How can students cite the "current"  
> literature, much of which may be unavailable (distributed in many  
> cases by monopolistic publishers but paid for by your tax $) at  
> colleges whose libraries lack subscriptions to "everything" [2]?
> If the Wikipeida articles are the current "state of  
> knowledge" (because people writing them may have access to the best  
> sources), then the question arises as to why Wikipedia citations  
> should be banned?  I would note that I believe both MIT and  
> Stanford are moving in the direction of allowing public access to  
> all of their courses.  That would mean that you could get an MIT or  
> Stanford education *without* attending MIT or Stanford.  So the  
> question that lurks in the back of my mind is whether teachers  
> (professors) are concerned in the long run with one-to-more- 
> than-"many" replacing the classical "one-to-many" models.  If I can  
> get the information online from Wikipedia or MIT or Stanford why  
> should one spend hours and hours redistilling something that  
> someone else has already distilled?  One can argue that learning to  
> analyze scientific thought processes has value (which is why things  
> in Wikipedia should be accepted on a "preliminary" basis) or that  
> hearing things directly from the professor in a classroom has  
> value, but I can't help but believe there isn't a fair amount of  
> questioning among various educators -- "What if Wikipedia and the  
> staffs of MIT and Stanford can replace us?"  In which case one is  
> dealing with efforts to maintain ones "monopoly" on education  
> rather than legitimate academic concerns.
> Robert
> 1. http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/01/26/1752250
> 2. I am fortunate that over the last 15 years I have had access to  
> libraries that have access to nearly everything.
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