Wednesday, 14 November 2012

College students use of Wikipedia

Last week we read an article on how students use Wikipedia* in preperation for a seminar on the topic of Wikipedia.

The discussion we had on the subject was interesting. The study itself was, to me, fairly reassuring (in a way) in that it shows young people today do know how to use the internet for research and recognise the importance of verifying facts through use of more than one source. This is, in fact, exactly how I use Wikipedia; indeed, how I have used it since I first came across it about 10 years ago.

However, the question was raised during the session as to whether it is right that students should be told not to cite Wikipedia: is it really as untrustworthy a source as (it is assumed) many lecturers think? Even sources found through 'trustworthy' sites or databases may be suspect: you still have to go through the same process of checking citations and facts for any information you find. So the question is, why should Wikipedia be treated any differently? It's definitely something worth thinking about!

*Head, A. and Eisenberg, M. (2010) How today’s college students use Wikipedia for course-related research. First Monday, 15(3).

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