One of the things I’m supposed to be doing right now is planning for my online version of English 516 (a graduate course called “Computers and Writing, Theory and Practice”) in Winter 2007, and preparing/proposing an online version of the class English 444 (which is “Writing for the World Wide Web”) for Spring 2006. One reading that might be useful for both of these classes comes from last week’s CHE, “Can Wikipedia Ever Make the Grade?” I think it does a good job of kind of covering the “issues” with Wikipedia in terms of what it means as an academic source, meaning it doesn’t settle anything (how could it do that?), but it raises lots of good questions in an easy to access piece.
Personally, I think the argument that wrong stuff can be (and usually is) quickly changed is the most compelling reason as to why Wikipedia is, for the most part, a “trustworthy” source. I suppose we could (and when it comes to teaching classes like FY Comp, I suppose you have to) debate the idea of Wikipedia being source for “research,” but my basic answer to that for myself is that it is pretty much the same as using an encyclopedia as a “research” source: both might be useful to get started, but neither is a real source.