Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Internet is NOT a source!

Recently my youngest son competed in a well known state research competition, but that's not why I'm writing this post.  I've seen the "internet" referred to as a source by many learned people, and most wearisomely educators.  One of the comments on my son's evaluation sheet was "books are more important than internet".
This confusion regarding the use of the Internet has been repeated time and time again throughout the evaluations I see my sons bring home.  The "internet" is not a source.  The Internet is the path to your information.  To summarily dismiss any source which includes a URL demonstrates an ignorance of technology resources we have available today.
It may not just be an ignorance but a misunderstanding of the scope of the Internet.  The problem I've seen is fairly widespread, but my most recent encounter is with this competition.  One of the comments criticized the presentation in the competition for use of
Questia.com and emphasised the use of books in the next line.  Questia is an online source of full text of 72,000 books and 2 million magazine and newspaper articles.
Some of the problem I believe is from the publicity regarding the inaccuracies of  wikipedia.com or using sources like billiejoes.com.  But just because the
National Equirer exists that doesn't mean we should disallow references to the New York Times.
Using unvetted sources should be corrected but condemning the use of the Internet for research is akin to disallowing the use of a library.  The most ironic part of this prejeduce regarding the use of the Internet for research is that the original intent of the Internet was to share information on research and development in scientific and military fields.

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