Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Wikipedia Warning

C/Net published an article by one of their interns a month ago about the convenience of the Wikipedia for procrastinating students. "Wikipedia is one of the Internet's latest additions to the information revolution. More importantly, it's the reason I was able to finish my massive second-semester AP English research final project in less than 45 minutes." She redeems herself by warning others about its unreliability. Hmmm, is that really enough to stop the slackers?

Advice from this librarian:
Students: OK, use Wikipedia to get initial background info on a topic. Then graduate to reliable published sources like specialized encyclopedias, both to verify and to expand on your understanding. Then move on to books and articles.
Instructors: Encourage your students to use both the Wikipedia (they will anyway) and specialized encyclopedias (expensive under-used gems) to develop a basic understanding of a topic. Maybe even let students cite the "W". But nothing beats a good class discussion about plagiarism, ethics, critical thinking, the real purpose of writing papers and education itself--as well as constant vigilance!

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