In K12, we grapple with offering students advice on when Wikipedia rocks and when it falls short. There are those moments I just love it and moments when I cringe because it is absolutely the worst place a particular student might begin a particular information task.
Wanna peek at how professors view Wikipedia? A Stand Against Wikipedia in InsideHigherEd.com presents the debate on campus.
The history department at Middlebury College is trying to take a stronger, collective stand. It voted this month to bar students from citing the Web site as a source in papers or other academic work.
The article discusses: whether encyclopedias have any place in academic research, the value of Wikipedia’s bibliographies, issues relating to the collective editing process, the wisdom of telling students flat out that they can never use a particular information source.
Our colleague, Steven Bell, associate librarian for research and instructional services at Temple University, discusses the impact of Middlebury’s approach on promoting information literacy:
“I applaud the effort for wanting to direct students to good quality resources,” but he said he would go about it in a different way.
“I understand what their concerns are. There’s no question that [on Wikipedia and similar sites] some things are great and some things are questionable. Some of the pages could be by eighth graders,” he said. “But to simply say ‘don’t use that one’ might take students in the wrong direction from the perspective of information literacy.”
The debate in response to the article is also well worth reading!