To Wikipedia or Not To Wikipedia?

Posted by Mary Risi on 1/1/2011 8:00:00 AM

Wikipedia cartoon
RDMS 7th Graders are in the middle of their Website Evaluation unit in STRIVE FOR SUCCESS. They are considering what makes a website authoritative, credible and current enough for them — they are raising their standards for information found on the Web.
So it is timely that this piece was recently published on ZDNET Education by edtech blogger Christopher Dawson considering whether Wikipedia is a credible source for student use. Basically, I agree with Dawson and he says it well:
The only major point of difference between Dawson and me: I don’t believe a student at the secondary level should ever cite an encyclopedia, be it Wikipedia or the Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedias are a starting place for background, a launching-off spot.

Wikipedia shouldn’t work - it should be a holy mess - but somehow it does. It is now something in the range of 8 to 10 times the size of the Encyclopedia Britannica and most of it is well sourced and contains information that cannot be found elsewhere, at least not in one convenient place.

Sure, Wikipedia has its problems. So, we need to approach it with the same critical eye as we would any information on the Internet. Just start acting like a 7th grader at RDMS and evaluate your websites!