While the academic world continues the ongoing debate on whether Wikipedia is a reliable reference tool, the History Department at Middlebury College made a decision this past January to ban students from using Wikipedia as a citable source in their papers and exams.
As a librarian, I feel that Wikipedia is a great starting point tool to use for a research assignment or paper. Many Wikipedia articles provide good background information on a topic (especially useful if you are not familiar with a topic). For further reading on a topic, Wikipedia articles also provide links to other online sources and references to print sources.
I also think that Wikipedia is a great tool to use for critical thinking assignments. For example, students can research a particular topic by first going to Wikipedia then verify the facts and information found on Wikipedia by using at least several primary and secondary sources.
For further reading on the Wikipedia debate and how it is used in colleges and universities, take a look at:
- A Stand Against Wikipedia Inside Higher Ed.com – Article includes various feedback from educators and students.
- Wikipedia: Press Coverage – Links to articles from 2001 – present.
What do you think of Wikipedia? Feel free to comment on this post.