Several years ago, the Linguistic Society of America decided to embrace the old motto of “if you can’t beat them, join them” by organizing trained linguists to create and revise Wikipedia entries about languages and linguistics. It was a great idea, since many of our students tend to believe things they see in print–even on Wikipedia–before they believe the person standing in front of them. As result, I now tell my students that it is okay for them to *cautiously* use Wikipedia for research on linguistic subjects.
Other educators are also beginning to embrace the use of Wikipedia in the classroom, including those described in the following link, who are using it as an opportunity to teach research and writing skills: Once-scorned Wikipedia now embraced in school | California Watch.
That is, they are assigning students to research and re-write Wikipedia entries. It’s a great assignment: one that teaches students at all levels about information handling, framing, and source documentation. And, it allows students the opportunity to publish their work–which often inspires greater attention to detail.