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Who Says Wikipedia Isn’t Trustworthy?

October 4, 2011

On Oct 2nd a letter to the editor  of the Chronicle of Higher Education was posted to the Chronicle’s Website which argues against the information that librarians and faculty typically tell students about Wikipedia. The letter was written by a librarian. The letter begins “Perhaps nothing illustrates more clearly the extent to which “education” can become indoctrination than the knee-jerk reaction of instructors and students to the use of the Wikipedia as a source of information.” That reaction, according to the author of this letter, is that students should never use it as a source.

To me, this letter is a reminder that our job as educators is to teach students how to think for themselves.  So, rather than telling them never to use Wikipedia (or another source) perhaps we should do as the author of this letter suggested and have them “find and evaluate critically information in the Wikipedia?” This might be a nice  idea to include in a lesson on website evaluation!

What do you think? How else might you use Wikipedia in a library session to teach critical evaluation? Do you already do something different?

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