Imagine what today's teachers--at least, those who still assign thoughtful essays--must contend with.
Yahoo! Answers—a site where anyone can post a question in plain English, including queries that can't be answered by a traditional search engine—now draws 120 million users worldwide, according to Yahoo!'s internal stats...
The blockbuster success of Yahoo! Answers is all the more surprising once you spend a few days using the site. While Answers is a valuable window into how people look for information online, it looks like a complete disaster as a traditional reference tool. It encourages bad research habits, rewards people who post things that aren't true, and frequently labels factual errors as correct information. It's every middle-school teacher's worst nightmare about the Web.
Throw in Wikipedia, and one wonders if today's students will ever even encounter a "scholarly source". But wait--it gets worse.
For educators fretting that the Internet is creating a generation of "intellectual sluggards," the problem isn't just that Yahoo!'s site helps ninth-graders cheat on their homework. It's that a lot of the time, it doesn't help them cheat all that well.
Footnotes, endnotes, sources cited--something has to serve as an honest broker here.