As teachers, we have a responsibility to ensure that our students are using all of the information sources available to them in an appropriate manner. Wikipedia can be, and should be, a very powerful tool to teach information literacy. Why? Because as an information repository, Wikipedia is:
- huge, and growing;
- the most complete single source of information on the planet;
- and it's incredibly up-to-date.
Up to date? Yes. Relevant? Yes. Accurate? Maybe! But we shouldn't be the ones to tell our students that it's not accurate. If they are independent, information literate learners, then they will be quite capable to make that decision themselves after conducting further research on the topic. And if, after conducting that research, the student finds inaccuracies in Wikipedia, then they should be encouraged to correct the entry.
I am not suggesting that Wikipedia should be the primary reference within a written piece of academic work, but it is certainly an ideal starting point for a student when researching a topic.