Wikipedia is a reference website that has information on different features and subjects. This information ranges from information on business, sports, science and arts. From Wikipedia, one can also come across information on recognizable individuals like actors, sports figures, scientists, and other celebrities around the world. Therefore, Wikipedia serves as a source of information to whoever needs information about anything of their interest. People searching information could be travelers, tourists, farmers, scientists, geographers and even students who all need information on what they are studying.
Most students at every level of studying use the internet in their research. They use information from the internet to do their class work, assignments and carry out their projects. Information on the internet comes from different sites depending on the kind of study and the subject in question. There are also soft copy books on the internet that students use to do their work. The internet is cheaper than reading books because one can access different books at ago even when not in the library. Similarly, accessing internet material is cheaper compared to purchasing hard copy books which are expensive and tedious to read.
Teachers and lecturers encourage their pupils and students to carry out research and read widely. Most of them actually recommend the internet by giving students links to websites and to soft copy books. However, there are some web sites that these academic instructors do not prefer. They warn and discourage their students from using them on the basis that the material obtained from them is misleading, shallow and unreliable. One such web site is Wikipedia.
Wikipedia was founded eleven years ago with the aim of being a site with all kinds of information. (Wikipedia 2. 2004, January. "History of Wikipedia" Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia Web. 01 Feb. 2012). It contains a lot of information accessible to all internet users. This makes it easier to access compared to other sites whose information has to be downloaded first before it is accessed, or others whose information is stored in form of PDF files. This means that information on Wikipedia is quite easy to find. For example, when using Google to search for information about something, Wikipedia will be among the top searches to give the required information. So the big question is why would academic instructors be against one of the top informative websites? They do provide credible reasons for not preferring Wikipedia. However, this does not mean that Wikipedia is not credible and resourceful information. In her editorial on TES News in November 20th 2009, Buie Elizabeth mentions explains why Wikipedia is good for pupils and teachers.
Information on Wikipedia is gotten from credible sources. Facts on this site are always updated as soon as they change. For example if a new example of a viper snake is discovered, this will updated instantly. This is because the site is open to changes in information by the public who access it. As much as there will be people who will add false information to the site, this doesn’t make the site unreliable. (Wikipedia "Reliability of Wikipedia." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Web. 26 Jan. 2012.) When used with other sources, Wikipedia can be very reliable and helpful to students.
If students are allowed to use Wikipedia, they will benefit more than when they are not allowed to. This is because Wikipedia provides citations for most of its information. This will help students to follow the links on the site to access more information from other sources. This adds advantage to the use of the site because users will be able to make citations, and access the sources from other sites through Wikipedia. This is one of the main reasons why the academic instructors should allow students to use Wikipedia.
One more reason is that Wikipedia is easily accessible to anyone. Over 30 million individuals world wide refer to Wikipedia. There is also diversity of information on Wikipedia. Students doing philosophy, music, science, arts can all refer to Wikipedia. This means that students doing all courses can comfortably use Wikipedia. This is proof that Wikipedia is a strong reference source to information on any academic material.
In conclusion, Wikipedia is a world wide source of information for academic people. It should be allowed that students use information from this site. It has wide and comprehensive information on various academic fields together with the citations that can help students to achieve high grades. It is also available in various languages which enable students from all over the world to read the information. The instructors should loosen their stand and change their negative mentality towards Wikipedia. It could herald the start of a successful and informative learning source. The students, especially those doing applied sciences can also help in adding information to Wikipedia by recording their practical findings on the site as long as the information is reliable and true. This will only lead to better learning.
Ayers, Phoebe, Charles Matthews and Yates Yates. How Wikipedia works: and how you can be a part of it. illustrated. San Francisco: No Starch Press, 2008.