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3 questions to ask your kid’s teachers about tech

3 questions to ask your kid’s teachers about tech
photo courtesy of SHUTTERSTOCK

Now that the kids and grandkids have been in school for a while, there are critical questions you should be asking.

Whether your child is getting ready for the end of the semester, or would just like to check in on your child's progress, there are some critical questions you should ask about the school. More specifically, about the school's policies surrounding tech. Here are three areas that your child's school should be addressing.

1. Do they use Wikipedia?

If you have a few hours to kill, Wikipedia is a fun place to poke around and learn interesting facts. However, some of those "facts" may not be facts at all.

Although Wikipedia is chock full of information, the pages you find there are actually written collaboratively by anonymous people. Wikipedia calls its contributors "volunteers," but basically, this means anyone from anywhere can edit the information you see there.

Wikipedia's terms and conditions clearly warn that creating hoaxes is not allowed. However, that doesn't stop people from seeing what they can get away with.

Because of this, Wikipedia isn't a reliable source for academics.

Here's an example. In the summer of 2006, television personality, Stephen Colbert, used Wikipedia for a stunt on his show, "The Colbert Report." In this stunt, Colbert encouraged his national audience to edit information on Wikipedia regarding the population of African elephants. After the show aired, fans quickly followed Colbert's request and Wikipedia soon indicated that the population of African elephants had tripled in the previous six months.

This, of course, is just one example. And pranking Wikipedia isn't always that easy because you must have enough people to back up your story. However, this example does show how the information shared on Wikipedia may not always be reliable.

If your child's school does use Wikipedia as a trusted source, recommend one of these alternatives instead.

  • Scholarpedia: This site works similarly to Wikipedia; however, to be a contributor, you must actually be a scholar. Contributors for Scholarpedia are comprised of university faculty members and researchers. Submitted content also goes through a peer review process.
  • Encyclopedia Britannica Online: Remember that hardback Encyclopedia Britannica set you used as a child? Well, now that wealth of knowledge is available online. Plus, there's even more great content your kids can interact with including quizzes, lists and photo galleries.
  • InfoPlease.com: This website also includes an encyclopedia, but contains additional educational material as well. Kids can review year-by-year news, see timelines, check out top 10 lists, study maps of the 50 U.S. states, use the calculator tool, thesaurus and dictionary.
Next page: Questions about social media and online bullying
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