Wikicheatia

29 May 2008 at 12:08 pm 2 comments

| Peter Klein |

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, reports the NY Times, skipped his college art history class:

When it came time for the end-of-term study period, he was too busy building the prototype of Facebook to bother to do the reading. So in an inspired last-minute save, he built a Web site with all of the important paintings and room for annotation. He then sent an e-mail to the students taking the class offering it up as a community resource.

In a half an hour, the perfect study guide had self-assembled on the Web. Mr. Zuckerberg noted that he passed the course, but he couldn’t remember the grade he received.

The pointer is from Joshua Gans, who calls this “an example of Wikicheatia or of Study Group 2.0.”

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Education, Teaching. Tags: .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Thomas  |  29 May 2008 at 2:25 pm

    Why is this cheating? The students are merely collaborating about learning the material… Students would be stupid not to talk to each other.

  • 2. Tim Swanson  |  31 May 2008 at 6:25 am

    I’m no advocate of academic dishonesty/plagiarism or traditional cheating. However, I do think that professors in the liberal arts could better equip their undergrad students by telling them how to use search engines and web 2.0 tools instead of just memorizing a bunch of paintings.

    For instance, I am reminded of a recent interview about critical thinking:

    The science behind the robotic experiments is straightforward. The Blue Brain team genetically engineers Chinese hamster ovary cells to express a single type of ion channel—the brain contains more than 30 different types of channels—then they subject the cells to a variety of physiological conditions. That’s when the robot goes to work. It manages to “patch” a neuron about 50 percent of the time, which means that it can generate hundreds of data points a day, or about 10 times more than an efficient lab technician. Markram refers to the robot as “science on an industrial scale,” and is convinced that it’s the future of lab work. “So much of what we do in science isn’t actually science,” he says, “I say let robots do the mindless work so that we can spend more time thinking about our questions.”

    I’m sure art historians need to have a good knowledge of types of art to be good curators. But in the case of Zuckerberg, memorizing these types of details in an intro class probably serves little purpose when a student can simply use google to find just about anything they want.

    Perhaps there are some operands that the professor could have taught the students on filtering through the search results.

    Who am I kidding though… very few professors know how to effectively navigate the interweb let alone know how to filter it.

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