One of the biggest challenges for anyone who uses the Internet as a source of news and information is to be able to assess the credibility and accuracy of the information they find.
A program sponsored by the Lawrence Public Library last week helped a few youngsters develop their ability to confirm the validity of online information.
The “Wiki Warriors” class invited youngsters to act as editors on the popular Wikipedia site, an online encyclopedia that depends on its users to provide and document accurate information on just about any topic. Anyone can weigh in, and, last Thursday, at least a few refinements on Lawrence-related information were made by three area students working on their laptops at the library.
One of the main purposes of the program, which will be repeated for the next two Thursdays, was to help participants recognize good sources of information and discover ways even they could improve on the information being provided. In this case, they focused on a topic they knew something about: Lawrence, Kansas. They collected information, edited entries and even added some photos to the Wikipedia information on Lawrence.
Mike Dupont, a local software developer who led the class, said he hoped to whet the students’ desire to share information on a worldwide forum. “They can make a difference,” he said. “There is no age barrier.”
Users around the globe have illustrated the power of the Internet to promote political and social movements. The proliferation of information on the Internet also has illustrated the importance of being able to find and identify accurate accounts and information among all questionable chaff that is posted on about any topic.
There’s no doubt that the Internet and the international forum it provides will be a big part of local youngsters’ lives. Kudos to the public library for sponsoring a program that helps students learn how to make it a more useful and informative tool.