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Yes, Wikipedia gives students a place to start when researching a topic. Once a student reads the info on Wikipedia, however, they should be required and encouraged to research further themselves and verify the info for authenticity and reliability.
Hence, students will be dealing with two real-life applicable lessons at the same time - researching on the web and verifying what they're reading as true or false.
This is something that everyone should be aware of and know how to do when researching! M
Teaching children to use whatever is easiest to find on the web isn't expecting much from the student. Perhaps the lesson is more on how to develop good research skills and be able verify varying qualities of information. Research should still be done at a library as well as be peer reviewed instead of off someones blog wall.
The Wikipedia is a great resource, but only one of many. I tell my students to be wary of any posting on the web. Who knows who the authors are and what their credentials are? Certainly university and commercial sites are reliable sources but there are so many more out there. I encourage my students to use several sources and different media. They use their critical thinking skills to sift through the information for what is agreed upon. This may lead to more questions and interest. It also develops a healthy skepticism about what they may be exposed to as the truth.
Students should still be using other sources to verify all their sources. They shouldn't trust just one website, whether it be wikipedia, edutopia, or National Geographic.
Wikipedia is a fantastic testament to the democratic power of the internet. However, our students should be learning to become critical consumers of information. Let them use Wikipedia, but require that they verify the information: that is just good scholarship.
Wikipedia is a great initial source but like all other sources you need to verify its content with other sources.
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
Of course, students should be allowed to use Wikipedia; it's one of the most reliable sources of information. Just because a publisher isn't making money on it doesn't mean that it isn't reliable.
Other than in elementary school, students shouldn't be using *any* encyclopedia as a source other than for background information. (Even Jimmy Wales says so!)
When I read "The Professor and the Madman" by Simon Winchester I was struck by the fact that it took thousands of people all over the world working together to create the "Oxford English Dictionary." Wikipedia has been created by thousands of individuals, much like the dictionary. Studies have been done that indicate that Wikipedia is as accurate as commercially produced encyclopedias.
Wikipedia is just one example of how thousands of common people, even students, working together for no compensation can create something much better than a relatively small group of experts.
Wikipedia should both be used as a reference source and as an example of how the Internet has brought "power to the people" more than anything that has preceded it.