The general consensus with Wikipedia is amongst students is that it is a source of information that we MUST NOT site in academic writing. We have often been told, due to the fact that almost anyone can edit and add to Wikipedia pages, we should not consider it as a reliable source. Any page is subject to the risk of vandalism which can skew the information provided. Also, I learned that about 87% of Wikipedia’s editors are male and under 30. This means that the people from which we are gathering information are writing from a similar perspective and thus generating a bias.
However… after looking at the various open knowledge projects Wikimedia as a foundation aside from Wikipedia, I would suggest that there are other various sources that students could draw from that I believe would be of use. Firstly, there exists ‘Wikibooks’ which provides a collection of free e-book resources, including textbooks, language courses, manuals, and annotated public domain books. It is often the case that students are unable to download e-books as they would have to buy a subscription to the website containing that book. Therefore, this would be a handy way to find the books that they need during their academic study. Secondly, ‘Wikiversity’ is a project dedicated to providing learning materials and research for anyone to refer to and use in their own work. It states:
‘Wikiversity is not limited to university (or tertiary) level materials but is open to materials and communities of all learner levels. The way it can facilitate learning activities and communities are still being explored but is centered around the model of ‘learning by doing’, or ‘experiential learning’
Wikimedia Foundation 2017
In addition, Wikimedia provides an online travel guide called ‘Wikivoyage’. It is available in 17 languages and is written by volunteers.
There are many other ongoing projects associated with Wikimedia that I believe to be of use to people that aren’t necessarily in their field of vision!
So go check it out!