This week, four of my classes had research projects going on – two had a research paper and two were working on digital stories. Before Wednesday, none of them had heard of SOPA or PIPA – by the end of class, however, they all were versed in the legislation (probably far more than Congress) and how it could impact them. You see, I always require my students to use a minimum number of books and journal articles in their research projects. However, that doesn’t stop their first move – Wikipedia. I’m not anti-Wikipedia, in fact many articles have a solid bibliography that can help students’ with their research. However, when they logged on to investigate the development of Augustan Classicism or the Battle of Antietam, they were greeted with this image:
And a google search, while not blocked, was presented with this image:
The WIkipedia blackout and Google “black flag” brought more attention to the implications of internet censorship than any lesson in class, public service announcement, or news story. By the end of class, they hadn’t gone as far into their research as I would have liked (but more use of JSTOR and the library books than previous days). However, they had a better understanding of how modern events, policies, and legislation can affect them in real life.