Wikipedia: a way to plan and direct your own inquiry

The validity of using Wikipedia as a source for academic research is often questioned. To add to the debate, this recent article by Holly Else on Times Higher Education reports that,

A decade ago, Amy Carleton, a lecturer in comparative media studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, had a sign in her classroom in capital letters that read: “Wikipedia is not a source”.

Fast forward to 2018 and not only has Dr Carleton taken down the sign but she is now using the online encyclopedia to help teach her courses.


How can Wikipedia be used to find credible information and connect with academics?

Using the thinking routine, Think-Puzzle-Explore, below is one way Wikipedia can be used by high school students to get started in their research.

When starting research ask yourself these questions below:

1. What do you think you know about…

For an example, I chose the topic, feminism in Australia and started reading on Wikipedia.

2. What questions or puzzles do you have?

I was puzzled by the fact that the page had not been updated since 2014 and so I asked questions about the referenced authors in the article.

3. How can we explore these puzzles?

I wondered what sources would be worth tapping and how could I get more information? How can I find a way to answer my own puzzle?

To get some answers, I opened the links to the authors and their published work. When opening the article on The Conversation by Eva Cox I could read the complete article and also explore Eva Cox and her more recent work. This led me to her website, her blog and her Twitter.

How can I share my thinking?

By using Wikipedia I can plan and direct my own enquiry and find ways to connect with academics. To share my thinking, I can use my blog and social media such as Twitter or even add to the Wikipedia article.

Further reading and references

Students defend the future of facts on Wikipedia

Wiki Education

Feminism has failed and needs a radical rethink by Eva Cox on The Conversation

Eva Cox




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