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Educational Web Sites See Traffic Spike

People flocking to Wikipedia and Yahoo Inc. drove a 22 percent jump in the use of educational Web sites in September.
The number of people flocking to Wikipedia and Yahoo Inc. drove a 22 percent jump in the use of educational Web sites in September, a research firm said Thursday.

More than 3 in 10 users of the web went to an educational reference site last month, or nearly 46.4 million people, Nielsen/NetRatings said. That number was 22 percent higher than the same period last year.

An educational reference site is used in researching a wide range of topical facts, including history, geography, anatomy and language translation. Nielsen/NetRatings studies 50 sites in the category.

Wikipedia, a group-edited Web encyclopedia, was the fastest growing educational site, attracting 12.8 million unique visitors in September, the research firm said. Compared with a year ago, use of the online tool, hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation, increased 289 percent.

“The Wiki phenomenon offers the added element of user interaction, which appeals to college-educated Web users' sense of altruism by allowing them to add or correct online content,” Nielsen/NetRatings analyst Gerry Davidson, said in a statement.

Yahoo Education, the second fastest growing site in the category, increased traffic by 205 percent to 3.3 million visitors, Nielsen/NetRatings said. Among the reference tools available on Yahoo are a Spanish and English dictionary, thesaurus, literary quotes, Shakespeare's works, a world fact book and the edition of “Gray's Anatomy of the Human Body.”

Another site that experienced notable year-over-year growth was eHow, which spiked 97 percent. Rounding out the top five fastest growing sites were and Each increased traffic by 58 percent.

More than half of the people visiting educational reference sites were college-educated adults 35 years old or older, compared to only 16 percent of Web users under age 18. Overall, adults between the ages of 35 and 49 were most likely to visit such sites.

“College-educated adults, on average, are savvier about and more engaged with the Internet and its wide range of capabilities through leisure or work,” Davidson said.