I can remember when Wikipedia first came out and our English department had forbidden the use of it by our students. I didn’t question the new rule and told all of my students the same thing…NO WIKIPEDIA! I guided the students through research reports in Chemistry and biographies in Math and upheld the rule. Two years ago, I decided to research exactly why our students couldn’t use this online encyclopedia. Well, turns out that anyone can edit an article. They have editors that manage what is posted and can delete posts if necessary. The average editor is a 26 year old male graduate student. I suppose they won’t catch everything. Even so, this is what the students are gravitating towards. They are using it no matter what teachers or professors say. Some students just won’t cite the work from Wikipedia in order to get around the rule. In my small amount of 13 years of teaching, I have found at least five papers plagiarized directly from Wikipedia. All in all, I see no problem with it. If one of my students were to write a biography on Archimedes, he will find general information that is useful for a biography. With that said, if I had a student writing a paper on the analysis of medieval pigments, I would not expect them to be utilizing Wikipedia. All things considered, in my classroom, it is okay to look up something on it and even cite it in a paper; however, it may not be the only source. I have since gone back to the English teachers and the policy of the school at this point in time is that all students are allowed to use Wikipedia as a general source of information as long as they have other sources. I think it is quite fair. Take a look at this article from edtechideas.com. What do you think? What do you allow in your classroom?
Think Wikipedia Isn’t Useful to Students? Think Again
Here’s a nice infographic showing facts and information about Wikipedia. A couple of things really caught my attention:
- 8 out of 10 students turn to Wikipedia for their first source of research.
- Fewer teachers are banning Wikipedia from being used for research.
- 56% of students will halt research if little information is found on Wikipedia.