(Un)Reliability of Wikipedia

April 2, 2008 at 12:15 pm (Cool, Web 2.0, Wikis)

I came across this great lesson idea on FactCheckED.org and had to share it. 

http://factchecked.org/LessonPlanDetails.aspx?myId=19

This lesson has students examine wikipedia to determine if it can be a reliable source of information. 

As teachers, how do we feel about allowing students to use wikipedia for research?  Many teachers will not allow it’s use and will give students failing grades for citing it.  I’m confused by this.  Isn’t the point of research to collect information and data from a variety of sources?  As long as students do not use just wikipedia then I don’t see the problem.  If what they read on a wikipedia site matches information read elsewhere, why can’t it not be used?  As educators we need to be more open-minded when students want to use web 2.0 tools in school.  Instead of denying their use, embrace them and make them work for you and your students.  Teach students how to determine the reliability of any website, whether it is a wiki or any other site. 

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1 Comment

  1. pKay said,

    Good points you made!

    People should note that the internet in general, and not just wikipedia should be looked at critically and with a grain of salt…. As wikipedia is written by a random bunch of people, so to are many websites and credentials aren’t always easily obtained from the web…

    Yes they can use wikipedia as a tool for school…. and they can very well use it for thei assignment/homework too…. But in university, they expect us to obtain “published” sources, so it might come as a bit of a shock to students finding out they cant reference wikipedia in their assignment… (but the internet in general can not be used as a reference in university so it’s not as if the uni’s are going againt wikipedia!!)

    Cheers 🙂

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