Many teachers question Wikipedia’s accuracy and usefulness as a student research tool. Embracing Wikipedia is an article from Education Week that questions that critique:
Like any encyclopedia, the online resource Wikipedia is not a perfect reference guide; however, it is an excellent place for students to start the research process and has immense pedagogical value for teachers.
It’s a short piece worth reading. I agree with the writer, and have no objections to my mainstream and IB students using it as one of their sources (my ESL students can use the Simple English Wikipedia).
What do you think?
(Thanks to Langwitches for the tip)
I agree. You can’t count on its veracity but it is a very good tool to get a quick answer to a query. When reading Newsweek articles with my adult students, for example, wikipedia has given endless answers to questions like ‘What is Dr Phil’s programme?’ when a reference appears in an article. As we are located in Geneva, Switzerland, the answer isn’t obvious. My daughter, who studies in a Swiss high school, was asked to create a page on wikipedia for her computer studies course. She created a page in French about her Australian suburb she was born in by taking the English version and using the translate tool to turn it into French. So, that’s a 13 year old adding to wikipedia, illustrating possible problems with it.
Very interesting article. It brings up some very valid points, and I for one abhor Wikipedia. Sure, I like it to answer some quick questions here and there, but I do not see it as a valid source for research.
My worry is that Wikipedia takes us farther and farther away from recognizing “credible” sources. Eventually we get to (and have gotten to) a point in which we believe any random “fact” or “statistic” people say to us. Our next door neighbor, who may not be an expert in anything is suddenly a source for a statistic on how 80% of schools waste all their tax money on teacher vacations.
I have a facebook, and several times a week friends and family members are posting made up statistics about various causes because we no longer recognize what is credible or how to find the information for ourselves.
That said, this article gave me some definite food for thought. I wish it would have addressed that our research sources are not quite as limited as Wikipedia or a dusty-ole book. 🙂 I feel it is important to teach students how to spot credible websites, and perhaps that can be done through Wikipedia as well by using all the links provided. Thanks for the eye-opening article!
Have you seen this TED talk? http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/jimmy_wales_on_the_birth_of_wikipedia.html
It really changed my thinking about wikipedia.