Wikipedia is a wonderful resource that has transformed the Internet. It has been proved to be as reliable – if not more so – than the Encylopaedia Britannica, but nevertheless it has problems. There’s no way that a teacher could let a class loose on the site without insisting they check the information with that found elsewhere. But what other such comprehensive resource can teaches point their students towards?
Enter Freebase. Although only in alpha release, it still has several million articles available to view. According to this tutorial (only watch the first half – the second is for developers) the hierarchical nature and different page structures depending on content make it easy to navigate and use. All of the content on Freebase is available under a Creative Commons license, meaning that students just have to cite the work if they use it in a project.
Experts within the community have great control over the structure of Freebase than ordinary users. Although Wikipedia is ostensibly editable by anyone, new users are prevented from editing controversial and politically-sensitive pages. Freebase has the potential to be an extremely useful tool for teachers, especially when used with other sites such as Wikipedia and the revolutionary ManyOne browser and its digital universe. 😀