Wikipedia… a credible source?

Over the years, Wikipedia has managed to create a chasm between educators. Some educators have preached that great evil resides in all things Wiki. Others, such as ourselves, have always said Wiki is a great place to begin research.

Wiki has many advantages over a standard dusty set of 10 year old encyclopedias. Obviously, the fact that it is probably more current is a huge one. Another is the fact that Wiki is searchable. That fact makes it extremely easy to find information that would otherwise be extremely tedious to find.

Wiki has stated that they are not a credible source, however, many educators in the K-12 and Higher Ed systems are beginning to accept Wikipedia citations.

We had the pleasure of presenting paperless classrooms at the Alabama Educational Technology Conference recently. While we were not presenting, we attended other concurrent sessions. One of those sessions was presented by Jeff Utecht. Jeff showed the audience things about Wiki that many of us were not aware of.

For example, all Wikipedia entries are ‘graded’. Entries that are ‘stubs’ or ‘starts’ are generally considered not accurate or credible. However, articles graded as a C level article could be considered credible, and A or B graded articles almost certainly are.

The key here is that you have to teach students how to tell what is credible. You can no longer just preach Wiki is bad, when in fact, it is often more up to date and more accurate than other sources.

So, the question is, how do we see what each article is graded?  It is far simpler than we think.

First, let’s start with the Wiki quality scale. An example of this can be found by scrolling down on the following page:

Next, in order to find an articles rating, you just click on the TALK tab near the top of the article.

wiki talk link

You then see the screen that gives you some of the nitty gritty about it’s quality rating. This is where you see just how credible an article is.

So, the answer to the question… Is Wikipedia a credible source?  The answer is changing over time… it could be credible.

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