A Place for Wikipedia or Putting Wikipedia in its Place

Sarah Baker

Abstract


Many university instructors have a love-hate relationship with Wikipedia - they love to hate it. In spite of the fact that faculty don’t allow students to use Wikipedia for class assignments, it is consistently one of the first places students look for information. As a librarian who instructs students on how to do research, for me the choice isn’t whether or not to ban it or ignore it, but how to best teach students about the appropriate and beneficial uses of Wikipedia. I’m not proposing that all instructors use a Wikipedia article as an assignment in their classes or even that they teach their students how to use it. I am suggesting that teachers put Wikipedia into context and tell their students about the appropriateness of different research tools for their assignments. I think that instructors should make a place for Wikipedia in the discussion instead of constantly trying to put it in its place.

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