Wikipedia ... do you let your students use it?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by ku_alum, Feb 26, 2009.

  1. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    I've never been opposed to students using Wikipedia to find information. It's a good starting place for info. If the assignment involves research, I don't allow Wikipedia to be the only source (because I want them to learn a variety of searching skills).

    But, I have colleagues that are against Wikipedia in every way.

    I shared this (link below) with them today.

    Interesting. What do you think?

    http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/jimmy_wales_on_the_birth_of_wikipedia.html
     
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  3. AnonyMS

    AnonyMS SpEd Para! BASE room aide! RTI Facilitator!

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    Since anyone can edit Wikipedia, I wouldn't think that it would be that accurate on some things. So, no, I wouldn't let them use it, either.

    I did not read the link.
     
  4. Falcon Flyer

    Falcon Flyer Companion

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    I use Wikipedia all the time as a jumping off point for my research. However, I would never site it as a source. If the Wiki article is a good one, it will contain all kinds of links to the original source info. I would encourage your students to follow those links and site those sources.
     
  5. adventuresofJ

    adventuresofJ Comrade

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    I do not mind it as a starting point but only to find other actual resources. "oh this information is interesting, where did they get it, oh a list of footnotes from reputable places... fantastic."
     
  6. MrsOrion

    MrsOrion Rookie

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    Yes definitely never mind if they are using wikipedia. Its like the old britanica encyclopedia sets except on steroids. Excellent resource.
     
  7. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Anyone being able to edit wikipedia is a terrific feature for many topics. However, you need to be very, very internet-savvy to use it.

    Take a topic like vulcanizing rubber. Simple, uncontroversial -- if someone knows a separate technique and wants to add it, they can with sources and chances are it's accurate. This will make for a very comprehensive encyclopedia.

    Take a controversial topic, and even if it's been cleaned up of outright bias the list of references may be distinctly one-sided.

    It is also often surprisingly difficult to know when a topic might be controversial when approaching it for the first time.
     
  8. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    I am also not opposed to using it. I know there are several teachers in my building who also don't allow it, including our library media specialist.

    I try to NEVER use blanket statements, such as "You can't use wikipedia." in my classroom.
     
  9. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    I wouldn't want it to be the only reference a student used. My DH is getting his bachelors degree online. When he researches his topics the only sites that come up are Wikipedia and essay mills. :(
     
  10. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    I once had to write a "group essay" for University and discovered that every one of my group members copy/pasted from wikipedia.

    I agree, as a jumping off board, or even for basic facts (capitals of countries, flags, etc.) it can be excellent, but should not be the sole resource used.
     
  11. KrazyKay

    KrazyKay Rookie

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    I agree with what the others have said. I'm still a student working on my bachelor's degree. I use Wikipedia as a starting point - but I never cite it. If the topic is one I'm not sure where to start, Wikipedia is a good place to get ideas, then use the references it lists or go to the library website to continue searching after getting some ideas. I'll have the same policy in my classroom - altough I probably won't have to worry much since I plan to be a math teacher ;) lol.
     
  12. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    I would allow it, maybe even recommend it, as a starting point for ideas, but I would never allow it to be a cited source. People in my college classes still seem to think it is a good source--these are reasonably good students who should be comfortable diving into the professional literature!

    High school students should be able to vet a website and figure out who is behind it and if it would be an appropriate source. There are so many sites that are good, that using wikipedia is just sloppy. Examples in the sciences -- NOAA, USGS, NASA, all have a variety of portals designed for different classes of users. Many universities have sites on topics, with sources provided. Magazines such as Geotimes have websites. Being able to critical evaluate your sources is a skill kids need to have.
     
  13. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    I allow Wikipedia as a source only if there are three OTHER sources as well.

    Without Wikipedia, two sources are enough.

    I love Wikipedia, but it's only good for facts, not issues.
     
  14. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    PS - if you are working on a bachelors or masters level degree, i would think you would rely more on internet databases provided through the university, like Gale, rather than doing a google search, especially if the google search is only bringing up wiki and essay mill sources.
     
  15. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I wouldn't use Wiki as a source for a research paper but I have had a staff developer share at an inservice recently that studies have been done of Wiki and it's more accurate than most think. Here's a link to an article on it:
    http://arstechnica.com/old/content/2006/11/8296.ars
     
  16. sundrop

    sundrop Cohort

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    I don't let the student use Wikipedia to find information when they are working in the lab with me, and I strongly encourage classroom teachers to do the same. Because anyone can add to it, it can be inaccurate. We have a subscription to an online encyclopedia which is reputable. I encourage students to use this site.
     
  17. adventuresofJ

    adventuresofJ Comrade

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    Even things that may not be controversial can be just plain wrong. My high school and the city i live in are written with an extreme bias against. Though the high school one is very obviously just some stupid rival student, the entry about the city I live in gives facts from a very scewed POV.
     
  18. chemteach55

    chemteach55 Connoisseur

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    As a school, we do not allow students to use wikipedia. I don't have a problem with it but the head of our English department does not like it and has banned it at the school. That being said, you have to be very careful with it--I have found several inaccurate things in science articles.
     
  19. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    That's just it. The university's database doesn't give you a lot to work with either. I'm really not liking how the classes are set up nor the whole university. But this is what he's chosen so he has to deal with it, though I help him with papers so I deal with it on occasion.
     
  20. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    Many universities and colleges (including community colleges) will sell access to the library for a yearly subscription fee. He could look into this--he would get access to all the standard academic databases within the library.

    Also--google scholar sometimes brings up articles that can be accessed free.
     
  21. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Thanks, molly. I'll look into that for his next paper.
     
  22. lindydish

    lindydish Rookie

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    I'll chime in and agree with many of the other posters. Wikipedia is useful as a starting point, but students should use it as another search engine. I allow students to use it to find references, but would not allow the site to be used as a reference. Professors in college refuse to allow it as a source, so I would not allow it in my classroom. For controversial topics, I think it would be a great site for gathering information on opposing views and to demonstrate how to write persuasively.
     
  23. allisonbeth

    allisonbeth Comrade

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    I do not allow students to use it as a source. It is not well respected and therefore readers will not take their papers seriously.
     
  24. Historyteaching

    Historyteaching Cohort

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    My students have gone to it on occasion. I use it as a starting point or something for a quick fact check. I like my students to use more than Wiki..though it is their cite of choice.
     
  25. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    Nope. Never. In fact the school has set the filter to block the site altogether.
     
  26. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    Did anyone watch the video I included in the first post on this thread?
     
  27. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    I admit, I didn't watch it at first, but I just watched it.... very interesting indeed. It does seem to be a lot better than it is given credit for.

    Unfortunately, certain things DO slip through, such as the average temperature of Manitoba. Yes, in the paper that one of my groupmates in University gave me, they had the average temperature. I searched everywhere for information that would back this up, since I had lived in Manitoba, and knew that it got a lot colder than that! All I could find was wikipedia, so I deleted that little bit of information.
     

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