Over at ZDNet, ed-tech consultant Chris Dawson makes a case for allowing kids to use Wikipedia—the free open-source encyclopedia that many teachers ban students from using—for classroom assignments.
This plea doesn't apply to the teachers (or administrators, for that matter) who have figured out that Wikipedia is an incredible knowledge store, cornucopia of primary sources, and go-to site for most the free world. Rather, this plea is for those who, instead of teaching students about Internet site credibility, fact checking, verification, and crowdsourcing, choose to simply prohibit the use of Wikipedia.
He admits that encouraging kids to use a site without much filtering is scary. But that comes with the territory, he claims, when you let kids use the Internet at all. Plus, he says:
You know what Wikipedia has that the nether regions of the Internet do not, though? Citations. References. Links to further reading and verifiable primary sources. And when it doesn't, it has a nice little box at the top of the entry explaining why it doesn't meet Wikipedia standards.
The major problem with Wiki prohibition, though, is pretty straightforward, he asserts: “We all use it anyway.”
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.