Launched in 2001, having over 17 million articles, and reaching over 365 million readers, Wikipedia is probably one of the most commonly used sites for quick information. If you are or have been a college student, chances are your professors have made it clear that Wikipedia is not a reliable source when it comes to citing or gathering research. While Wikipedia does offer plenty of information on millions of subjects, events, and people, the fact that anyone can add or edit the information displayed on Wikipedia, tends to lessen it’s credibility, especially in the academic world. And even though there are some protection and restriction settings on Wikipedia to prevent disruption of pages, many professors and scholars will not accept it as legitimate source for student’s references.
But as Wikipedia continues to grow, and is now marking it’s 10 years in operation, it is aiming at becoming more of a reliable source. Wikipedia has created programs and initiatives aimed at getting students, professors and schools more involved in the Wikipedia process, according to Wired Campus. The latest plan for Wikipedia is to improve student learning by giving students the opportunity to evaluate the articles and informational data posted on the site, and to contribute knowledge to make better articles, with more information. The initiative is trying to create more reliable content for students to use by also engaging professors interested in the plan to use Wikipedia as a major part of their curriculum.
Wikimedia, the parent company, which focuses on images, sound, and other media files, is also aimed at expanding their data and getting schools, professors, and students involved in submitting information as well. For the start of this academic year, Wikimedia launched a Public Policy Initiative, which recruits professors that are interested in engaging this type of project in their classes and with their students. Last fall, 12 professors from 8 different universities participated in the program to increase the content on the popular site. These programs can be looked at as a positive method of having students learn more, while also engaging them in things that they are familiar with.
These initiatives and programs are all in hopes that Wikipedia can be used as a teaching tool. Early results have shown the project to be effective in including Wikipedia in the classroom, and using it as an effective learning model. And professors agree that the programs give students the opportunity to learn new material and get a chance to see their work posted somewhere, which makes most of them more engaged in class work. And while one professor that worked on the program last semester, Jeffrey Tang, states that some of the entries received from students are great, and some aren’t all that great, they were better than the content that already existed.
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