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Agree William. It's a better starting point for a new topic than a straight Google search which brings up popular and paid-for ads. I have them read it and then use the links at the bottom of the page. The vast majority of Wikipedia info that pertains to science seems accurate, and the editing is transparent. They have to triangulate their facts with two other sources. I have research sheets that support this. Wikipedia is invaluable for middle school independent research topics when I cannot resource all of them. Plus they are going to use it anyway. let's go with the flow as far as we can.
The goal of middle level educators is to get -- and keep -- students on a college track. So, why allow your students to develop habits -- including research habits -- that do not serve the college readiness goal? Permitting students to cite Wikipedia as a source impedes the development of good research skills, and allows students to develop a habit or practice that does not serve the college readiness goal. Most colleges and college professors do not consider Wikipedia to be a "citable source" for a college paper. While Wikipedia is an excellent place for jump-starting research, or for checking basic facts, it is a tertiary source, at best. Unfortunately, throughout middle and high school, many students are allowed to rely on Wikipedia, and enter college without acceptable research skills. So, what's the best policy? 1. Follow a “Look But Don’t Cite” Wikipedia policy mirroring what will be expected of students in college. 2. Teach your students about primary, secondary and tertiary sources, the differences between them, how to find them and how to use them. Don't let students develop habits that do not serve their college readiness goal!
"hmm...'They should access only reputable sources.'
Then absolutly NO internet sources should be allowed at all. As a matter of fact... NO sources should be used because they are peoples opinions, or may contain the authors pull towards one thing or another. If this were the reason then the internet shoudl be etirely banned, books should be banned, magazines should be banned. The only thing that should be allowed in this case is having the actually raw facts for what you are researching. Imagine you live in California and your assigned to research something about the original U.S. laws or something... hope you have a couple hundred dollars, you're going to D.C.. Oh good luck getting security to let you actually look at the information as well"
Not really. The person wasn't suggesting students only refer to primary sources. A website can be reputable if it fact-checks. Wikipedia, while it fact-checks, may be incorrect at the time a student is reading it. For example, a few years ago the comedian Sinbad's Wikipedia page stated he was dead. Because anyone can change anything on Wikipedia, someone had changed his page. Eventually, Wikipedia's fact-checkers discovered the error, but for a while this error existed. However, on a more reputable site, such as IMDB (Internet Movie Database), where the information on celebrities are verified by them and/or their agents, Sinbad has always been listed as alive and well.
For a while, Wikipedia listed Sacramento as a state, not a city. Eventually someone caught the error. I doubt I would find many errors if I went to the World Book's website.
Wikipedia is a great starting point and an excellent place to find reliable sources (since much of the information is cited). However, unlike other encyclopedias, Wikipedia publishes first and fact-checks later. For this reason, it should never be considered a reliable source.
Dan...Wikipedia is NOT reliable. Over the past 5 years both Sinbad the comedian and Bill Cosby have been reported to be dead by someone who posted on Wikipedia. Wikipedia does not have editors to fact check behind anyone who makes posts and therefore cannot be deemed a reliable source.
Using Wikipedia for background information or a jumping off point...that becomes a gray area because we need to educate our students about HOW to use the world wide web and its resources. Many of my students believe that if it is in print on the web it HAS to be true, even if I can show them that it isn't. The "digital natives" may be able to use the technology, but do they understand what they are actually doing, or are they just using the technology because it is there? That is a question we need to answer.
It is a little add-on that shows how many times a Wikipedia article has been edited. Since anyone can edit any Wikipedia article at any time, it's information could be false one day and true the next. Kids need to know about how wikis operate, and if they are asked to research online, we need to help them develop some healthy skepticism about choosing sources.
Yes - students should not only be allowed to read, correctly cite, verify the accuracy and authority of any given article, they should also be encouraged to learn how to edit it, improve it, and add local knowledge to this global resource. The time for dismissing the significance and accuracy of wikipedia is long past.
As we try to move our students in to the 21st century classroom, we have to equip them with tools so that they can learn and explore. I am not opposed to my students using Wikipedia or any other reliable Internet sources, as long as it is verified through other sources as well. Research based projects need information that can be sought from online sources. As Mary mentioned earlier, they will also lern to tell the difference between what is true and false, fact or opinion.
Wiki really should be on the first place from all enterprises!
Encarta is shutting down because of the competition from Wikipedia. But that aside, I have rarely found problems with Wikipedia information. It is a good start point, a good general summary, that offers ideas for further research. Research has been done showing that there are fewer errors in Wikipedia than in Britannica, and of course Wikipedia can be updated more frequently. Many people do not realize that there are volunteer editorial teams that monitor articles and keep them from becoming incorrect. Wikipedia should not be used for reference purposes in college level work, any more than any other encyclopedia should be used at that level, but it certainly is a good starting point for further research.
I think that throughout school, using Wikipedia is fine. But once you reach university level, you should be allowed to get information from Wikipedia, as long as you site another source (ie. the source Wikipedia sited), as all information on Wikipedia is supposed to site another source, no individual research.