OK, this is my last Wikipedia post for a bit. There's lots of other good stuff happening in Ed Tech that I'm ignoring in favor of weighing in on the whole Wikipedia debate. However, today's headlines on a color-coded rating system for the online encyclopedia's authors simply reinforces its maturity and usability in a variety of educational contexts.
Here's the scoop, courtesy of PC World:
Starting this fall, text from new or questionable sources will be signalled with a bright orange background, while trusted authors will get a lighter shade...with the new color-coding system in place, the more people view and edit new text on Wikipedia, the more "trust" the initial edits get, turning from orange to white. This way, things that people agree with more often will stick around as reliable information.
How's that for an in-class activity? Open up a Wikipedia author account, find something new and interesting to write about (or find a topic flagged as needing further development), and then write something worthy of white text. Students whose content stays white by the end of the term should get a Wiki Author's Award.
As the PC World article points out, the color-coding system will only be used on pages about people for now. However, it seems quite likely that a successful rollout within Wikipedia's personality pages will lead to further use of credibility ratings, again driven by a crowd-sourcing model by which young people are quickly learning to judge the content they create online.
Obviously, the more tools Wikipedia can give our students to evaluate its content, the better. However, one bit of Twitter conversation from today sticks out in my head as I think about exciting ways kids can use Wikipedia and similar tools (thanks to @raganmd):
[We can] in fact, foster a community of contributors who are encouraged, nay required, to play on the net and share what they learn