Wikipedia banned in schools?

By Justin Mann on November 26, 2007, 2:08 PM
Wikipedia has been loved and it has been hated. It has been cited as a huge boon to the sharing and spread of information, and is easily one of the world's largest collaborative projects. It has also been cited as an example of where bias or poor research can lead to inaccurate or outright false information.

It is the latter point that has many school officials feathers all ruffled, with many schools banning or attempting to ban the use of Wikipedia, at least in schools. With an increasing number of students, including college students, relying on Wikipedia as an information source, school officials are “concerned” with the potential for inaccurate or biased information to be presented as valid research. The issue isn't so much that Wikipedia might contain information that isn't factual, but that students are using it as a primary source of information and not extending beyond it – not verifying those facts, simply assuming that what the Wiki says is true.

But is that worth banning the site over? Should the students be responsible for doing further research and verifying the data they find on Wikipedia? Moreover, should the schools be allowed to dictate what research materials students are allowed to use? Considering that part of the Wikipedia culture is relying on third-party sources to find data, it would seem counter-intuitive to prohibit students from using it, at least as a reference point.

In any case, it's an interesting story – and one that is sure to continue as Wikipedia grows in scope and it becomes more readily available, or less available if these schools have their way.

User Comments: 1

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phantasm66 said:
I did this programming coursework back in Uni. I wrote an anagram game in C++.It was ALL my own work. And I got 92% for it.When I asked why I got the high mark, the tutor said:"Because I know you wrote this yourself. I get like 200 courseworks back, and out of those, 150 or so are generally just a copy and paste of code found on the Net. I even get the same code submitted by several students. I know your work is original, hence the high mark."How many schoolkids these days just go to wikipedia when they have an assignment, and then just copy and paste it into Word? Change the odd paragraph here and there? It used to be that you got hammered for cheating... now, it is instead the case that those who do not cheat get extra credit, and those that cheat get a pass?
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