I remember when Wikipedia first came out and teachers were told to not use it and to not allow their students to use it. I recently overheard a social studies teacher talking to our librarian about her students researching in the library. She said, “Just make sure they stay away from Wikipedia.”
I think this is great disservice to our students. Wikipedia is of great value in education. Here are a few reasons I share with educators when I run workshops:
1. You don’t trust it. This is a good thing. You need to validate information on this site. Guess what? You should validate all information you find. We are on our toes with Wikipedia, but completely let our guard down on other sources.
2. Many people contribute. Articles tend to remain objective. Some interesting facts show up, again validate from other resources.
3. The outline. Have you ever noticed the outline on most articles? This helps my students tremendously to organize their research. We sometime take the outline and create a web.
4. Images. When you click on an image you get so much information. I use this for lessons on copyright. Also, if you search Wikimedia Commons, you can find some copyright friendly images that you can use in projects.
Wikipedia is a reflection of how we currently and authentically acquire and share information. It is radically democratic, social, and dynamic.