Best Practice

Wikipedia in the classroom

Like it or not, Wikipedia is here to stay. Dr Nicola Davies explores current Wikipedia trends and advises how teachers can make Wikipedia work for them without the risk of students becoming reliant on it.

Whether researching the works of Shakespeare, pathogenic micro-organisms, or the Seven Years’ War, most search engines will lead teachers and students straight to Wikipedia.

Despite debate over the reliability of Wikipedia information, the free online encyclopaedia is here to stay – for that reason alone, teachers need to educate students on how best to use the resource. 

Wikipedia was set up in January 2001 as a free, online, user-managed encyclopaedia. It has since spread into other areas of information hosting and providing, but the encyclopaedia remains its mainstay. 

It is currently the fifth most popular website in the world, with a volume no printed book can match. As of September, it was home to almost 33 million articles, of which almost five million are in English; the rest are divided across 277 other languages. Many would argue that while Wikipedia is a remarkable achievement in terms of community teamwork, its reliability is questionable. Even the Wikipedia website states: “Nothing is perfect, and Wikipedia is no exception.”

Register now, read forever

Thank you for visiting SecEd and reading some of our content for professionals in secondary education. Register now for free to get unlimited access to all content.

What's included:

  • Unlimited access to news, best practice articles and podcast

  • New content and e-bulletins delivered straight to your inbox every Monday and Thursday


Already have an account? Sign in here