The digital classroom, transforming the way we learn

Could the Days of Wikipedia Being a Banned Research Source Be Over?

Wikipedia (Photo credit: Octavio Rojas)

It is well known fact that for many years most teachers have been telling students that they can not, under any circumstances, use Wikipedia as a source for an assignment. At a conference in Stockholm on the 20. of March we discussed this and it seems that more teachers are willing to let the students use Wikipedia these days. I always ask my students to use 3 different sources and Wikepedia can be one of those. But to be causious when using Wikepedia is generally good advice. Despite the site’s best efforts, inaccuracies always crop up. But most students go ahead and use the online encyclopedia anyway, even if they don’t cite it. Now a group of professors and students at Imperial College London hope to start legitimizing Wikipedia as a research source by joining forces to improve the content on the pages.

The effort makes sense given the massive size of the site. With over 18 million articles and 365 million visitors each month, Wikipedia is the connected world’s go-to reference source. The president of the campus group Wikipedians at Imperial College, medical student Vinesh Patel, told BBC News that “Wikipedia is here to stayit’s a question of whether we come up to speed with it or try to ignore it.”

Patel hopes to coordinate students and staff at Imperial and other schools to “make the most of Wikipedia, rather than pretend it’s not there.” To that end, he’s coordinating an April conference focused on bringing academia together to improve the quality and consistency of information the site the offers. Source: Good Education.  Last year, Harvard professor and Association for Psychological Science president Mahzarin R. Banaji launched a similar effort to clean up the inaccuracies in Wikipedia’s psychology entries, while British students and faculty teamed up to do the same in several content areas. If independent efforts like these are consolidated under the Wikipedia Education Program umbrella, the site could be on its way to true academic legitimacy. And because students—and the rest of us—are never going to stop using Wikipedia, we might as well focus on making the world’s most popular reference service a credible one.  Source: Good education.


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