Study: Wikipedia as accurate as Britannica–at least on science

Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that relies on volunteers to pen nearly 4 million articles, is about as accurate in covering scientific topics as Encyclopedia Britannica, the journal Nature wrote in an online article published Dec. 14.

The finding, based on a side-by-side comparison of articles covering a broad swath of the scientific spectrum, comes as Wikipedia faces criticism over the accuracy of some of its entries.

In November, prominent journalist John Seigenthaler, the former publisher of the Tennessean newspaper and founding editorial director of USA Today, revealed that a Wikipedia entry that ran for four months had incorrectly named him as a longtime suspect in the assassinations of president John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert. …Read More

Virtual schools offer clubs, field trips

To counter the concerns that online instruction deprives students of close peer-to-peer interaction and other forms of socialization, a growing number of virtual-school programs are offering virtual “clubs” for participating students and organizing field trips that place students in the physical company of their online peers.

Julie Young, president and chief administrative officer of the Florida Virtual School (FVLS), a provider of supplemental and full-time virtual instruction to students in Florida and internationally, said many of the social activities that students take part in through her organization mirror those of the contemporary work force.

“Meeting online is a common occurrence in today’s workplace. By [participating in] virtual clubs, [students] can further develop their 21st-century communications skills and diversify their online learning experience with real-life collaboration and exercises,” Young said. FLVS launched the first of its seven virtual student clubs with about 50 students in 1998. The school chose a format that emulates its regular online classroom environment, which permits live chats, academic club-related content, and interactive whiteboard sessions in a secure online environment. …Read More

District taps community in school reform

A Kentucky school district superintendent has taken community involvement to new heights with a bold program that asked parents, supporters, and other stakeholders to help redesign the district’s curriculum for the 21st century.

Fayette County Public Schools (FCPS) Superintendent Stu Silberman’s 2020 Vision program began with a simple idea and evolved into an effort to improve schools in every facet, aiming to provide students with a “world-class” school district within the next 15 years.

“We asked people in the community to take a look and see where we want [the district] to go in 10 or 15 years and what it should look like then,” said Silberman, a former eSchool News Tech-Savvy Superintendent Award winner while he was superintendent of the Daviess County, Ky., Public Schools (see our 2002 “Tech-Savvy Superintendent Awards,” “I know that when you put great minds together from a community, they’re going to come up with some pretty powerful recommendations on how to move forward.” …Read More

My New Year’s resolutions

January is the time for new beginnings, and one of those beginnings is for yours truly. Please allow me to introduce myself. I’m Roger Riddell, and I’m your new online editor. My predecessor, Dan David–a lifelong hockey fan–skated off to run the web site of the New York Rangers hockey team (his dream job, he said), and so I slipped into my dream job–right here at eSchool News Online.

As I see it, our online community (the 220,000-plus educators and education advocates who rely on our electronic resources each month) is one of the main reasons eSchool News Online ( is the No. 1 source for ed-tech information. We have loads of information that are both created by and intended for the education community–public, private, and parochial, higher education as well K-12.

As the new online editor, my No. 1theme for eSchool News Online in 2006 is “community,” or more specifically, how we can let you and your colleagues communicate with one another and generate valuable resources for one another in the process. After all, who better to comment on the latest ed-tech trends, equipment, and practices than the people who are making the technology decisions and implementing them? …Read More

Bar set high for year’s biggest ed-tech event

Welcome to the eSchool News Conference Information Center for the National Educational Computing Conference from June 27-30, 2005, in Philadelphia. This section of eSchool News Online is your source for year-round coverage of the most important high-tech education conferences, and no conference draws a bigger crowd than NECC. Whether you’re one of tens of thousands at the conference, or just wish you were, here you can always count on finding:

Advance Coverage: Check here for information on schedules, speakers, and key events in advance of NECC 2005. Find out how to register for the conference, as well as other upcoming events.

Live, Real-Time Coverage: During NECC, log on for real-time news, information, and pictures–live from the show. Real-time highlights include candid assessments from eSN’s cadre of volunteer Conference Correspondents (fellow educators reporting on workshops and seminars), and incisive analysis from the award-winning journalists of eSchool News. …Read More

Negative exposure?

So there I was, minding my own business at a major education conference, when someone spotted my press badge and decided I was a ripe target for complaints about the media’s coverage of the ed-tech landscape.

“You’re all so negative,” this person said. “You report the bad news about technology in schools, but you don’t pay the same attention to good news. These stories make it harder for everyone. Why do you dwell on them?”

To be honest, I really didn’t have a response. For I believe that, despite such criticisms of the media, at least eSchool News’ coverage is truly “fair and balanced” when it comes to the ed-tech world. I know this because most people who approach me at conferences are eager to tell me how much they appreciate our work. I also know it because, for every complaint like this one, there is another accusing us of being unabashed cheerleaders for the ed-tech movement. If we’re hearing contradictory criticism from both sides of a debate, then we must be doing a good job. …Read More