Wikipedia is a controversial online encyclopaedia created, edited and maintained by users. At the moment, there is significant debate about whether to allow students to refer to Wikipedia in their research as the information cannot always be credible (Read, 2007). This debate is part of a larger discourse in which questions are raised about what constitutes knowledge in the information age (Rosenzweig, 2006)
This great tool is being used by all levels of students in education, yet it raises questions about the accuracy of the information, since the database of information has been placed online by the general public and not from a source such as Encyclopaedia Britannica (Read, 2007).
Searching Wikipedia for accurate information is a good choice for most students as long as they are searching for mainstream information. Wikipedia however is not recommended for uni students (Halavais, 2006).
Although Wikipedia can be easily blocked by schools to keep it out of the classrooms and libraries, this online source of information cannot be blocked from homes, public venues, and public libraries (Suit101, 2008). This collaborative tool although can be a useful resource to have in the classroom as it is a quick source of information for students to access and retrieve at the click of a button.
From my experiences both at school and university, I have found that Wikipedia was never an accepted source of information. This was in particular emphasised in my first year of university. However aaccording to the Wikipedia FAQ, "Properly written articles cite the sources, and a reader should rely on the Wikipedia article as much, but no more, than the sources the article relies on. If an article doesn't cite a source, it may or may not be reliable. Students should never use information in Wikipedia for formal purposes (such as a school essays) until they have checked those external sources." Furthermore I would take this approach in my own classroom by teaching students to research wisely, by checking sources, and making judgments whether they believe the information is reliable or not.
The use of Wikipedia fits well within the framework of the ICT Design Model. This model fits so well because it asks students to work collaboratively in teams and explore databases, this is the first step of the learning design model (AUTC, 2003). It then focuses on students gaining support not only from teachers, but also peers and other sources that support procedures and instructions. The framework then sustains the use of many resources including books, web links and many more. Which overall helps scaffold the learning journey for an authentic assessment piece to take place (AUTC, 2003).
Australian University Teachers Committee. (2003). Learning Design. Retrieved August 16th, 2009, from http://www.learningdesigns.uow.edu.au/project/learn_design.htm
Halavais, A. (2006). Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 16th August, 2009 from http://educationalissues.suite101.com/general
Read, Brock. (2007). "Middlebury College History Department Limits Student' Use of Wikipedia." Chronicle of Higher Education 53, no. 24: A39-A39. Academic Search Premier,
Rosenzweig, R. (2006). Digital History: A Guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Suite101 (2008). Wikipedias Impact on Education. Retrieved 16th August, 2009 from http://educationalissues.suite101.com/article.cfm/wikipedias_impact_on_education
Wikipedia (2009). Wikipedia FAQ. Retrieved 16th August from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:About