Making Change Happen: 21st Century Skills and Meaningful Integration into the Classroom

Tme-at-eeobechnology keeps advancing, students keep changing, and the world we live in is vastly different than the one in which most of us seasoned educators completed our student teaching experiences. Yet in many ways, teacher preparation hasn’t reflected these changes. However, there are myriad excellent examples of students, teachers, and teacher educators engaging in truly 21st century teaching and learning. The challenge we face as a community of educators is being able to bring these innovative practices to all students, teachers, and teacher educators. It isn’t enough to simply tweet about technology-enhanced education to other educational technology converts.   How do we engage in a broad, open, inclusive, and effective push for cutting edge yet sustainable teaching and learning at both the k-12 and the postsecondary level?

21st century teaching and learning isn’t solely defined by technology, but certainly one cannot consider the art and science of teaching and learning in 2017 and beyond without considering the role that technology plays. In my own work as a teacher educator and an online professor, I have been advocating for intentional and frequent integration of technology into teacher education programs and k-12 classrooms. I’ve flipped my classroom, tried all sorts of technologies (and both succeeded and failed), and I’ve shared that work with my peers. As a result of this work, in the summer of 2016 I had the great privilege of being invited to attend an Innovators’ Summit focused on advancing the use of educational technology in teacher preparation, along with the Dean of the Rossier School of Education, Dr. Karen Symms Gallagher. I wrote up my reflections on this summit on my blog, and integrated this work into my work as a teaching professor.

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Innovators’ Summit Attendees on the steps of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building inside the White House Complex.

I was thrilled when I then received an invitation to attend a second Innovators’ Summit at the White House in December of 2016. During this summit, I spent two days working with around 50 other teacher educators, professors, deans, k-12 educators, and policy makers from around the nation on the shared vision that was articulated in a U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology policy brief as follows:

Our students deserve to have teachers, including novice teachers, who are fully prepared to meet their needs. In today’s technology rich world, that means educators need to be prepared to meaningfully incorporate technology into their practice immediately upon entering the classroom. Our nation’s motivated and committed pre-service teachers deserve to be trained by faculty using technology in transformative ways that thoughtfully support and measure learning gains.

Faculty at schools of education across the country should operate with a common language and set of expectations for effective and active use of technology in Prekindergarten-grade 12 (P-12) and at postsecondary education levels. Further, schools of education should work with P-12 schools and school districts to provide meaningful opportunities for pre-service teachers, in-service teachers, school and district leadership, and faculty to co-learn and collaborate to better understand and use technology as a tool to transform teaching and learning experiences for learners of all ages. Given the rapid pace at which technology evolves, faculty need regular opportunities to both refresh their capacity and share innovative tools and strategies with other professors in the field to ensure their technology use is contributing to learning and achievement.

The U.S. Department of Education believes it is important that all programs responsible for pre-service teacher training prepare all graduates to effectively select, evaluate, and use appropriate technologies and resources to create experiences that advance student engagement and learning. We call upon leaders of teacher preparation programs to engage in concerted, programmatic shifts in their approach to pre-service teacher preparation.

This policy brief was based partially on our work at the Innovators’ Summit in June 2016, along with numerous other cutting edge educators from around the nation, and was made real by the incredible work of the Office of Educational Technology.

On page 13, the policy brief highlights the work of the faculty of the Rossier School of Education’s Master of Arts in Teaching program.  The course being discussed in the second paragraph is the EDUC 518: The Application of Theories of Learning to Classroom Practice course that I have led for the past several years; we have made significant changes to the course in that time.

To improve their own online instruction, full-time and adjunct faculty at the University of Southern California (USC) collaborated on a data-informed process of course redesign to better meet the needs of their students. USC realized that student feedback via surveys and exit interviews were paramount in enhancing the program with the latest technology and pedagogy. Using student responses, faculty members continue to develop an internal community of practice to give each other feedback on how to improve virtual classroom practices and learn about new techniques and technological tools. For example, faculty members developed a video-based onboarding process where new faculty can engage with multimedia, resources, and lesson plans. Looking ahead, faculty are working toward creating an inventive video-based professional development model for flipped learning as part of a new version of the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program.

Prior to these changes, online course deliverables consisted of five papers and asynchronous discussion boards. Today, students are working collaboratively on online-based documents, recording sample video lessons for constructive peer critique, providing and receiving virtual feedback from colleagues and professors, building dynamic concept maps via web presentation platforms, and learning through flipped instruction models. As more K-12 schools shift to variants of flipped instruction, USC faculty models this work for pre-service teachers and colleagues who increasingly recognize how these pre-recorded videos and prompts can maximize in-class instructional time at the K-12 level and in higher education.

As we engaged in the continuation of this work at the December Summit, what struck me the most was how much every single moment of each of these Summits was focused on making change happen. In academia, we often talk about the theoretical, or about the research, and debate the philosophy of Approach A versus Approach B. There certainly is value in those conversations. However, there is also the danger that the conversation never becomes action, that we only talk to those who agree with us, or that we wait for everything to become well defined and backed by big data before we make a move. The problem with that is that while academia and administration tend to move at a belabored pace, technological advances are happening now. While we are busy completing lit reviews and gaining IRB approval, students are out there in a 21st century world, with all of the opportunities and pitfalls that exist.

At this Innovator’s Summit, we were pushed hard to develop plans of action. We all brought considerable knowledge and expertise to the table. Our philosophical, theoretical, and research discussions always were crystallized into things to do. This itself is a transformative practice. Director of the Office of Educational Technology Joseph South told us, back in June, that President Obama likes to say to the experts he calls upon that “there is no other room.” Meaning, the experts who will make the change happen are right here, right now, in this room; that’s why we were asked to be there. There is no other room out there where other, better people are going to solve the problem for us. The onus is on us to make sure that positive change happens, and that the brilliant work being done all over the country by forward thinking educators is shared and expanded upon to the benefit of all students.

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Me with Dr. Joseph South, the Director of the Office of Educational Technology.

So, we spent lots of time writing on sticky notes and chart paper (yes, yes, old school, I know), and snapping photos of innovative thoughts (there’s the technology for you). We got into groups and brainstormed, and then formed those brainstorms into concrete action plans. We focused our work around the following four principles established by the Office of Educational Technology:

  • Focus on the active use of technology to enable learning and teaching through creation, production, and problem-solving.
  • Build sustainable, program wide systems of professional learning for higher education instructors to strengthen and continually refresh their capacity to use technological tools to enable transformative learning and teaching.
  • Ensure pre-service teachers’ experiences with educational technology are program-deep and program-wide, rather than one-off courses separate from their methods courses.
  • Align efforts with research-based standards, frameworks, and credentials recognized across the field.
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Me speaking to Summit attendees as the co-chair of the Active Use of Technology Workgroup about our action plan for moving forward with this work.

I was able to walk away from this two day experience with a set of concrete recommendations for my Dean, who was unfortunately unable to attend the December Summit, as well as a plan for reviewing the work our Master of Arts in Teaching Program faculty have been doing in revising our program.

 

On a larger scale, those of us who attended the Innovators’ Summit at the White House were also asked to commit ourselves to one of four workgroups organized around the four principles shared above. I am co-chairing the Active Use of Technology Workgroup, and I am excited to see what we are able to do with a motivated, focusewest-wing-selfie-2d group of experts on educational technology.

And of course, here’s the obligatory West Wing selfie:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Talking EdTech

TALKING EDTECH

Technology isn’t going to become any less omnipresent in our lives; with the rate at which technology advances, we actually have no idea what type of world our current students will enter when they are ready to pursue careers and make big decisions.  So how on earth do we prepare them for that?  How can we even begin to teach students about technology or prepare teachers to teach technology when we don’t know what technology will look like even a few years from now?

Recently, I’ve been fortunate to be able to engage in lots of great conversations with other professors, classroom teachers, and policy makers around educational technology, in an attempt to answer these questions.  A couple of months ago, I was invited to participate in a summit on innovation in educational technology in teacher preparation. There, I made connections and began conversations with other innovators and experts at all levels from k-16 and beyond. Those conversations have continued at a distance since then, up through this week. On Monday, I led a Twitter chat for the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology, centered around the active use of technology in teacher preparation. Yesterday I had an amazing conversation on the TeacherCast podcast about educational technology, social media, and a host of other related topics. These conversations are absolutely critical to improving both the teaching practice and teacher preparation programs.  It’s no secret that, while we do have plenty of rockstar teachers and professors out there using technology in active and transformative ways, we also have a lot of schools, teachers, and professors still approaching technology from an old-school mentality (pun very intended).

I want to share with you some of the key points that emerged, repeatedly, from these conversations.

Teaching and learning with technology should be a tool to enhance the active engagement of students.  Tech certainly doesn’t have to be integrated into every lesson, but there are many ways in which tech can expand the classroom outside of the 4 brick and mortar walls, can provide more interactive and relevant learning experiences, and can teach students the valuable technology skills that they are most likely to need in the future.

But wait, didn’t I just say we don’t know what technology will look like even a few years from now? I sure did. So that’s why technology needs to look less like:

  1. Teaching students to type on a keyboard.
  2. Teaching students to use PowerPoint, Word, and Excel.
  3. Having students use a sanitized and heavily blocked version of the Internet.

And more like:

  1. Exposing students to many different types of technology.
  2. Modeling how to learn a new technology by networking, searching, and transferring knowledge.
  3. Teaching students good judgment for who to interact with online and how much and what types of information to share.
  4. Teaching students about the various things that contribute to their digital identity.

The difference here is that one approach teaches specific technologies, while the other teaches skills that will (probably) transfer to any type of technology that is developed. We must teach students and preservice teachers how to learn about technology and how to have good judgment around technology.

Another major point that I want to emphasize after having had these conversations this week, is that we in the field of education need to have these active conversations regularly, and we need to be talking across disciplines and across institutions and grade levels. Professors need to be engaged in conversations with classroom teachers who are actually implementing this transformative, active technology. Classroom teachers need to be modeling for and supporting each other in their implementation of active, transformative tech. We need to all listen to k-12 students; we need to know how they are using the technology, what they would like to use the technology for, and how they imagine the technology growing.

I want to make the final point that we have passed the point at which implementing technology in every subject area is optional. The Common Core standards require technology implementation and instruction. The U.S. Department of Education expects that schools implement and instruct in transformative, active use of technology. Living and working in the modern United States practically requires the use of technology. Teachers and professors who avoid teaching with technology are doing a disservice to k-12 students and preservice teachers; we can no more decide to avoid teaching with technology than we can decide not to teach kids math or language arts.

The future is here. We must be prepared to teach in and for the future.

Pinterest for Educators

pinterest-feature-imagePublished today on the Getting Smart! website, my new article:

How To Effectively Integrate Pinterest Into Your Classroom

Check it out for useful information on how to actively use educational technology in your classroom!  In it, I give some tips for using Pinterest in your classroom, as well as a link to the USC Rossier School of Education’s fantastic Pinterest Guide!

Teaching Tech to Preservice Teachers

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I recently ran across this brilliant blog posting as I was browsing Reddit, and I knew I needed to share it.  The author shares a mock test as a way of illustrating the major gaps in how we teach preservice teachers about technology.  The sins he describes are not at all exclusive to McGill University; all too often, education schools resist change, or misplace their focus when it comes to teaching about technology.  He offers a set of recommendations for universities that I couldn’t agree with more, that includes things like teaching about net neutrality, basic hardware usage (I am REALLY tired of seeing professors at conferences who can’t hook up a projector), closed vs. open source software, and the cloud. The only thing I would add to this list is that while all of these things are critically important, we also have to teach new media literacy.  Both teachers and students need the new media literacy skills named by Jenkins:

Play — the capacity to experiment with one’s surroundings as a form of problem-solving Performance — the ability to adopt alternative identities for the purpose of improvisation and discovery Simulation — the ability to interpret and construct dynamic models of real-world processes Appropriation — the ability to meaningfully sample and remix media content Multitasking — the ability to scan one’s environment and shift focus as needed to salient details. Distributed Cognition — the ability to interact meaningfully with tools that expand mental capacities Collective Intelligence — the ability to pool knowledge and compare notes with others toward a common goal Judgment — the ability to evaluate the reliability and credibility of different information sources Transmedia Navigation — the ability to follow the flow of stories and information across multiple modalities Networking — the ability to search for, synthesize, and disseminate information Negotiation — the ability to travel across diverse communities, discerning and respecting multiple perspectives, and grasping and following alternative norms.

Education schools aren’t exactly known for being cutting edge, which is a very sad thing.  We’re supposed to be the leaders in learning, and yet we often have to be bashed over the head with something before we change.  ALL schools of education should be teaching these skills to ALL of their students, not as an elective, but as a required course.

photo credit: Pablo Maroñas via photopin cc

Web 2.0 Tool Review: PowToon

I love to use little video clips or images to supplement my online class sessions; today’s class was on social constructivism and connectivism.  I had no problem finding a video summarizing connectivism, but one that focused solely on social constructivism was, surprisingly, more difficult to find.  Thankfully, the one I found on connectivism was really cool.

The creator, Mike Penella (@MikePenella), had used something called PowToon, which I, of course, had to investigate (LOVE the bee analogy, by the way, Mike!). Thankfully, I was able to get started using it for free, and I created the below video in about 10 minutes; it filled the gap in my class session nicely.

I’m planning now on going back and putting some more time and effort into creating all kinds of supplemental videos for my students.  There were a couple of spots where the interface wasn’t totally user-friendly, but on the whole it was a really simple yet powerful tool to use.  I can imagine the types of interesting things a class full of k-12 students could come up with if they were given access to this.

The most wired colleges in the US. WiFi? WiFi Not? Rankings | Unigo

WiFi? WiFi Not? Rankings | Unigo.

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Wifi is a wonderful thing to have, as are the myriad other tech resources that the listed schools have.  However, access to resources is not the same as having faculty and administration in all departments on board with the technological revolution.  Tech is changing the very nature in which we communicate and the ways we gain and share knowledge.  Surely every school has a stake in seeing their faculty and students become technologically literate and not just exposed to technology.

via The most wired colleges in the US. WiFi? WiFi Not? Rankings | Unigo.

 

photo credit: when i was a bird via photopin cc

Teaching New Media Literacy Skills without Technology

Let me start this post by saying, “I LOVE TECHNOLOGY!” I do; I love how it makes the world smaller and larger simultaneously.  I love that I have all of human knowledge at my fingertips, available within an instant.  I love that, when someone says, “Hey, that’s that guy from that movie!  You know, the one where Keanu Reeves pretends he can act!” I can have an answer for them in 10 seconds (the answer is Gary Oldman, by the way).

However, as much as those of us with ready access might feel that smartphones, laptops, and tablets are ubiquitous, the fact is that they’re not.  Just a few short years ago, before I made the transition to my new life as a professor, I was a classroom teacher.  The last school I was at was a high need school near East Los Angeles.  Our technological resources were, in a word, sad.  Just sad.  My classroom had 3 old iMacs in the back of the room.  You know, the ones with that annoying round mouse? Yep, these:

image from 512Pixels.net

I hated those damn computers with a passion.  They occasionally worked.  We often had to take the mice apart to get them to track properly, and the only really useful thing they’d do was run the AR tests.    I brought my personal laptop from home, because the teacher laptop I could have checked out was equally as bad.  Unfortunately, there were only a couple of digital projectors for the entire school (1500 students).  Once a teacher snagged one at the beginning of the year, it was very hard for anyone else to get a hold of them.  If you got one, you didn’t tell any other teachers you had it, you packed it up when you left the room and hid it, and you hoped it would still be there when you got back.  Otherwise, you’d be using the overhead projector.  We did have access to the computer lab occasionally, but it was ONE computer lab of around 35 computers for the whole school.  I tell you all this to say, I understand.  I understand that when someone tells you, a seasoned educator, or a new, and overwhelmed teacher, that you need to teach your students technology, and new media literacies, what you’re thinking is, “Have you been in my school? Have you seen the resources I have to work with?”

I hear your frustrations, because I have been there myself, but I promise you that if you can consider what I’m about to tell you with an open mind, both you and your students will greatly benefit.  You’ll also go a long way towards closing the ever widening gap between the haves and the have nots in terms of education.

First, we need to shift the conversation away from talking about teaching technology.  It’s not about teaching technology. Sure, knowing how to use Word is helpful, but that’s not the point.

If you’re spending your time in the computer lab teaching keyboarding, you’re doing it wrong. 

Instead, you need to be teaching new media literacy. New media literacy, according to Jenkins, involves a set of 11 skills that are critical to being able to function successfully right now and in the future world:

“Play — the capacity to experiment with one’s surroundings as a form of problem-solving
Performance — the ability to adopt alternative identities for the purpose of improvisation
and discovery
Simulation — the ability to interpret and construct dynamic models of real-world
processes
Appropriation — the ability to meaningfully sample and remix media content
Multitasking — the ability to scan one’s environment and shift focus as needed to salient
details.
Distributed Cognition — the ability to interact meaningfully with tools that expand
mental capacities
Collective Intelligence — the ability to pool knowledge and compare notes with
others toward a common goal
Judgment — the ability to evaluate the reliability and credibility of different information
sources
Transmedia Navigation — the ability to follow the flow of stories and information
across multiple modalities
Networking — the ability to search for, synthesize, and disseminate information
Negotiation — the ability to travel across diverse communities, discerning and respecting
multiple perspectives, and grasping and following alternative norms.” (Jenkins, 2006, p.3)

The beauty of these skills is that you don’t need to have access to technology to teach them.

Let’s look at play first.  There are numerous ways, in every single subject area, to engage students in experimentation with their surroundings without having to be on a computer.  Could you maybe, in a math or physics class, have students determine the proper angle at which to throw a super ball to get maximum bounce?

How about performance?  This one lends itself easily to an English class, or a social studies class, where students can act out roles and improvise based on the character or historical figure they’re representing.

Simulation certainly seems like it would require a computer, but with some basic materials like old cereal boxes, plastic wrap, paper towel rolls, scissors, and tape, students can create aqueducts to track water movement and volume.

Appropriation seems like a tricky one.  After all, how can you remix and sample media when you don’t have a working computer, or when your district blocks access to websites like YouTube?  Simple. Media doesn’t have to mean video or audio files.  Media can be magazine images, tape recordings of students’ own voices, student artwork, etc.  Use what you do have to encourage the same kind of skill.

Multitasking is probably one of the most critical skills on this list.  Being able to monitor a phone, a computer, and the real world simultaneously, for example, is a very important skill for professionals.  However, we can still teach the skill of multitasking in the classroom.  Perhaps we can have several different related activities happening in the classroom, and let students choose where to focus attention and when.

We could encourage the skill of distributed cognition in our students by allowing students free access to tools like calculators, formula sheets, dictionaries and encyclopedias, other students, and ourselves when trying to solve a problem.

This also lends itself to developing the skill of collective intelligence.  Allowing students to work together in collaborative groups to create products and solve problems encourages this skill; no computer is necessary.

Now, judgment is a bit different.  You can certainly teach judgment without a computer.  You can bring in various print resources, and talk with students about how they know which sources are reliable.  But this is the one instance where I’m going to encourage, nay insist that you bring in technology as well.  Why?  Well, because telling fact from fiction on the Internet is a challenge, and the only way to learn it is to interact with it.  You can start by making “screen shots” of websites on chart paper, for when you can’t get everyone on a computer.  Make some different kinds of websites, with different indicators of trustworthiness, for example, and talk to students about how they know which sites are legitimate.  Once you, hopefully, have the opportunity to take them to a computer lab, or give them turns on a computer, engage them in the process of exploring various websites and online sources of information (Twitter and Facebook are excellent for this, if they’re not blocked by your district).

Transmedia navigation, however, is able to be taught without computer access.  When you teach a unit of information, instead of giving a lecture, provide all of the important information in pieces across a variety of sources.  For example, put some information in a poster-type image.  Put some in an article they need to read (including extraneous information is important here).  Have another teacher or volunteer come in, and tell students that they can interview this person to get information, but that they need to know which questions to ask, and that only certain answers will be available.

To teach the skill of networking, you can create a print- and image-based network across multiple classes.  Have a blank bulletin board in each room, or in hallways, and have students search for and synthesize information in a visual format, and then share their work with other classes by posting it on the boards.  Allow students to comment on each other’s posts (productive feedback only, of course).

Finally, we have the skill of negotiation.  This one involves getting students out of the classroom.  Take them places, either in person, or virtually, if possible, and have them be in control of managing their assimilation or adaptation to new situations.  Coach an encourage them, but let them take the lead.

Obviously, the above are only a few of the many possible ways you could approach teaching these skills without technology.  The specific approaches you choose to use aren’t important.  What’s important, instead, is that you are teaching these skills.  Your students may have very limited access to advanced technology right now, but you can prepare them to be able to interact in meaningful and productive ways once they do have access to the technology.  These skills will transfer, so that one day, when they are, hopefully, sitting down to write their first blog post (or whatever the equivalent of that is in 5 years, 10 years, etc.), they will have the skills they need to work through the technology.

Have you had experience teaching new media literacy skills in a high need school? What challenges have you faced? What successes have you experienced?

Google Glass and the Future of Education

theverge.com

“When you grow up, you won’t be walking around everywhere with a calculator in your pocket, so you’d better learn this!” How many of us heard some version of that statement as justification for the rote memorization of times tables, or the endless repetition of problem sets? I know I did. But we ARE carrying calculators in our pockets now, aren’t we? My iPhone is never more than 5 feet away, and it’s not only a calculator, but a portal to access the collective knowledge of the entire human race for all of history. Take that, 3rd grade teacher!

It’s certainly convenient, and is having a huge impact on the way we teach. Once Google Glass rolls out to consumers (and within a few years becomes as ubiquitous as the iPhone), we’re going to see an even stronger reaction from students to that old school (pun intended) mentality. What possible justification, after all, could we have for requiring students to memorize the names of all fifty state capitals, when they will be able to, with a quick voice command, bring up the state capitals, and state birds, and state flowers, etc.? I’m not envisioning many scenarios in which your future-specs have stopped functioning, but knowledge of Topeka, Kansas is critical (residents of Topeka, feel free to argue with me on this one).

Why would we waste precious teaching and learning time on learning knowledge that requires zero critical thinking, and to which immediate access will only become easier as technology improves? We need to shift focus to teaching students how to think, how to problem solve, how to collaborate, how to analyze, how to synthesize, how to create, how to design.

The Common Core Standards are beginning to address this, by incorporating new media literacy skills into the standards, but a set of standards isn’t sufficient. Every teacher needs to be given professional development and/or support to help them create ways to prepare students for a future in which it isn’t encyclopedic knowledge that is valued, but the ability to think and communicate in innovative and dynamic ways. Instead, we’re throwing money down the drain on standardized tests, which encourage exactly the kind of teaching we don’t want, and creating students that the future doesn’t need.

I wish I could say that teachers are already teaching the future, but my own experience, as well as the research, shows that, by and large, they’re not. In fact, a recent study of teachers, librarians, and administrators showed that “keyboarding is a high priority among many educators at all levels within the district.” Keyboarding. I’ll let you take a moment for that to sink in.

Ready? Ok, let’s continue.

We, as a profession, are standing on the precipice of irrelevance; drilling formulas into someone’s head, aside from being unnecessary, can now be done by a computer, and much better than you or I could. If we can’t shift our focus to creating the learner of the future, then, as the late Arthur C. Clarke stated “Any teacher that can be replaced by a machine should be.”


– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

The Case for Wikipedia in the Classroom

I’ve heard this comment time and time again from professors and teachers alike: “Do NOT use Wikipedia to write *insert name of boring assignment here*”  But is this really the best approach?  I have many memories of pulling yellowing and slightly funky smelling World Book encyclopedias off the shelf of the school library, opening my college ruled notebook, and scratching away at a report.  Certainly, many of us have those same memories.  The location of the encyclopedias and other tomes on the shelves of the library lent them a kind of gravitas that appears to be lacking with modern repositories of information.  Today’s educators bemoan the inaccuracies of Wikipedia, and students’ reliance on the copy/paste function of their word processing software.
I put forth, though, that the problem isn’t Wikipedia.  While Wikipedia does have it’s share of inaccuracies (up to 60% of pages have been reported to have errors), scientific analysis has shown that Wikipedia is actually on par with the Encylopedia Brittanica for accuracy.  The question I’ll let you ponder is whether that means that Wikipedia is remarkably accurate, or that Encyclopedia Brittanica is remarkably inaccurate.
The problem is not one of accuracy.  The problem is one of judgment.  Somewhere along the line, we’ve failed to understand that students need to be taught information literacy skills.  (Yes, I just linked to Wikipedia there!) They are bombarded with information on a daily basis, but we’re not teaching them how to separate the wheat from the chaff.  Wikipedia is an excellent starting point for any kind of research, but only if you have the skills to determine fact from fiction, and to judge the reliability of sources.  In fact, when reading research articles on topics I’m not familiar with, I often have the article open on one half of my screen, and Wikipedia open on the other, in order to help decipher unfamiliar terminology.
So what we really need to be doing is not telling students not to use Wikipedia.  Instead, we need to be teaching them about Wikipedia. What exactly is it? Who contributes to it? How do you know if the information presented is accurate? How do you use Wikipedia to lead you to relevant peer-reviewed sources? How do you synthesize information from a variety of sources to create your own original product? These are the skills and knowledge students need.  If we take the time to teach these information literacy skills, what Jenkins identifies as the new media literacy skills of judgment and networking, then we won’t need to waste our breath naming which individual sources are acceptable and which aren’t.  We’ll be able to trust students to be critical consumers of information.