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Wikipedia…is it an educational resource?

Every year this comes up, so here’s a reminder of how and why.

Over the years educators have debated the value and reliability of Wikipedia as a source for educational projects. I have always been FOR students using Wikipedia! But, I always make sure my students know how and when to use it.

The guidelines include using Wikipedia for…

  • background/overview information
  • technical and unfamiliar terms
  • pop culture
  • quick facts or trivia
  • and…most importantly, its bibliography!

I always teach my students to go to the source of information and well written Wikipedia articles give you that. If a Wikipedia article doesn’t have a bibliography with sources you can go to, then it’s not a good choice for school research.

20110912-082906.jpgLibrarians are often against Wikipedia for academic work, but The Daring Librarian (aka. Anne Bronwynne Jones, one of Library Journal’s 2011 movers and shakers!) has a wonderful, albeit older, blog post on why she is FOR using Wikipedia. It’s worth the 10 minutes.

So, as we embark on another school year, remember to teach your students to use resources appropriately and responsibly, rather than sticking your head in the sand and pretending they won’t use Wikipedia just because you said so!