I was trolling the web for new things and stumbled upon this website. Are Victorianists aware of this? Basically, it’s lifted from wikipedia and is a full cheat sheet for the Victorian era. I’m very uncomfortable with this because I think that such information requires the steady hand of a trained academic to sift out the tripe and keep the reader focussed on valuable and accurate information.
I’m pointing this site out because this is what your students are reading when they google “Victorian” – I’ve never really done this before I began this site. It’s a fascinating world out there full of products to buy and viruses to pick up (I’ve avoided doing either, so far).
Students need guidance as to what information is good and what isn’t. The assumption is that it’s all good – who else but an academic would be interested in the Victorians, right? Well, such is the assumption of an unmotivated nineteen year old who just wants to finish that paper so they can go to the beerfest being held later in the evening.
Some of the blame is on the side of academics – I think there are ways to make this information more accessible and fun in terms of the learning experience. That’s why I began this site. Students see academics now as a service and the customer is always right. We know different, of course. However, don’t underestimate the student’s ability to underestimate you. Where they are correct is that we are doing very little within the field to counter misinformation, or sloppy resesearch. I’m sure someone worked very hard on this page. I don’t mean to berate the efforts going into Wiki-work. However, generalists have a limited knowledge and need to work with specialists to get these things right. Perhaps then we can transform these generic info sites into valuable introductory resources for study and support.
Be wary of this link, but also, be aware. If you are a student looking for a source for that essay due tomorrow – DON”T USE THIS LINK! If you are a professor teaching students how to research (and if you’re not teaching them how to research, why not?), then take not and be concerned. The democratization of knowledge on the web has led to a glut of useless information disguised as truth. Our job in the academy of the 21st century is to guide students through this glut and towards valuable knowledge. Critical reading applies to the web so let’s use those skills to consider what students are exposed to.