The Guardian has an article about the fact that the History Department at Middlebury have “banned” wikipedia. Cyberspace reacted as one might expect, with a full range of views. InsideHigherEd’s report is worth reading, as they stress, (as does the Guardian), that the real objection comes when students see wikipedia as the sole source of information, not a springboard for further research.
This debate naturally enters the whole arena of the Internet for research – an Australian student in the slashdot article adds:
At the La Trobe University History department [latrobe.edu.au] (where I study), websites (including Wikipedia) can only be ‘freely’ cited in first year, first semester units.
From second semester of first year, all History students are required to get permission from the unit lecturer and/or tutor to use a specific online source (journals and books published online don’t need to go through this) and to also attach a copy of the webpage(s) used to the essay.
That seems like a very sensible solution! I would be interested to know, however, how they treat online journals? Are all online journals exempt from the rule? Or just those that the University also subscribes to the paper version? What about those (increasingly common in Educational Technology) that only have an electronic version – and/ or the University only gets the electronic version? What about eBooks through ebrary?