Remember the days when doing research meant going to the library and poring through a stack of books to find the information you needed? Those days are all but gone. In the life of today's students, the Internet has become the go-to source for information. That, however, has led to some problems. With the proliferation of all kinds of information out there, both good and bad, it has become increasingly difficult for students to determine what good information is and what isn't. In an effort to help alleviate that problem, teachers at schools across the country have started to ban the use of some online sources. Most notably among these sources is Wikipedia.
Wikipedia, an online, reader-generated encyclopedia, is one of the most popular go-to sources for students. The problem, according to some in the academic world, is that the information on Wikipedia is incomplete or inaccurate. They have concerns that because anyone can edit, change, delete or add information to a Wikipedia entry, students may not be getting the best information available. In short, relying too heavily on Wikipedia makes it too easy for students to learn the wrong kind of information. .
One school, Middlebury College, has taken things to what some people are calling extremes. The college's history department voted to bar students from citing Wikipedia as a source in papers or other academic submissions. The chair of the department explains the decision:.
"As educators, we are in the business of reducing the dissemination of misinformation .Even though Wikipedia may have some value, particularly from the value of leading students to citable sources, it is not itself an appropriate source for citation." .
The decision came on the tails of several students incorporating the same misinformation into their papers, all cited as being taken from Wikipedia. The college did not specifically ban the use of Wikipedia (they understand that the site does have a wealth of valuable - and accurate - information) but that if a student repeatedly relied upon Wikipedia as a source the student's grade would be reduced.