the Elephant in our essays

I cannot speak about post-graduates or academics, but it may also apply in some degree.

As undergraduates we exist in a beautiful charade where the internet is treated like it does not even exist.

This is most poignant in the use of Wikipedia. From my experience most undergraduate students use wikipedia to understand the topic they are covering, if not to outright rewrite it as their essay. I am not saying ALL but if a good cross-section of students read this then they cannot lie and say that this is not the case. Please do if you have proof otherwise.

I do not say that this is bad, I myself will always, whether inadvertently or not, use wikipedia at some point in an assignment – though I would say that for students in the most part it forms the very basis of their assignments. This I am also not critiquing.

What I am pointing out is the utter fallacy. Wikipedia is essentially ‘the Elephant in the room’ that we are trained to pretend does not exist. If Universities and academics really care and want their undergraduates to flourish, they must stop blacklisting such resources as wikipedia.

People might say this is old news. It isn’t its just been brushed deeper under the carpet where it can cause a deeper rot and damage.

So what do I suggest. I am not necessarily in the position to suggest but as a critique calls for alternatives in my mind I would start by saying that this example of wikipedia here, acts as an example of why the present system needs some rethinking. Starting in this instance by taking wikipedia and claiming it. Get students as assignments to add, criticise, correct articles on it. Submit all their work as new wikipedia articles.

Make wikipedia academically sound, or use it as a playground to learn in, where in its acceptance it can be better used, better monitored and brings with it so many other skills such as critical thinking; which appear as a rarity in today’s undergraduate essays.


p.s. Its called collaboration not plagiarism ANYWAY – the above is just how plagiarism can also be removed whilst not killing the undergraduate essay.