Frederik Questier

The University in the age of Google and Wikipedia

by Frederik Questier on Nov.11, 2009, under Professional

The 8th Ethical Forum of the University Foundation will be held in Brussels, November 19th 2009. The topic is “The University in the age of Google and Wikipedia.
New potentials, new threats, new duties.”

Since they ask short reactions to the question “Should we resist or should we expand the role of Google, Wikipedia and the like in the life of our universities? Why? How?” I prepared the following:

Let’s integrate our academic knowledge into the global brain!
Prof. dr. F. Questier, Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Google, Wikipedia and the like have become cornerstones of our information society. Their disruptive innovations were impossible without flirting with the boundaries of privacy and copyright laws. We should remain very critical and teach that even ‘don’t be evil’ Google and non-profit Wikipedia have their limitations and related risks. We should teach what is good and what is bad scholar use of these tools. Wikipedia and Google have proven that mass collaboration and innovative use of web & user data can create services that tend towards collective intelligence. In a certain sense they have become complimentary to the academic knowledge and practices. More important than the question about the role of these internet services in universities is the question about the role of universities in this new collective intelligence. Let’s unlock the academic knowledge by embracing open innovation, open access, open learning materials, open standards and free & open software. Let’s teach our students to be not only knowledge consumers and producers, but also knowledge publishers. Today it’s not enough to publish single resources, such as articles and books. We have to integrate our academic knowledge into the global brain.

My reaction is maybe a bit too general, but I found it difficult to go more specific, without loosing my general perspective, in the 5-15 lines asked.

Disclaimer: I have no affilitations with Google or Wikipedia. Yes, I’m a user of their services; I was contacted by Google for a job offer; and I contributed to Wikipedia and similar projects such as Wikibooks (Educational Technology course book).

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