This plea doesn’t apply to the teachers (or administrators, for that matter) who have figured out that Wikipedia is an incredible knowledge store, cornucopia of primary sources, and go-to site for most the free world. Rather, this plea is for those who, instead of teaching students about Internet site credibility, fact checking, verification, and crowdsourcing, choose to simply prohibit the use of Wikipedia.
Two of my kids were assigned papers within the last week and told they could use any sources other than Wikipedia. Seriously. Because apparently, the first three hits on Google are outstanding information sources.
(Read the rest of the article by clicking this link:)
A link to this article appeared in my Twitter timeline last night:
— LibWithAttitude (@LibWithAttitude) December 27, 2010
Those of you whom I teach already know that I encourage the use of Wikipedia as an information source, providing you exercise the same caution and common sense that I would expect to be used for any other source. However, I also expect you to be equally cautious in accepting what I say, particularly since I know you are likely to have heard from others that Wikipedia can’t be trusted.
To my students: have a look at the article, and the comments below it, and familiarise yourself with how Wikipedia works, so that you can use – wisely – what is in my view one of the greatest contributions to the spread of human knowledge I’ve seen in my lifetime.
And to any teachers reading, if you think you have good reasons for ‘banning’ Wikipedia – maybe something I’ve missed? – I’d be happy to hear them. Otherwise, perhaps it’s time for a rethink.