Task force/Recommendations/Offline 3

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Outline for Recommendation #3 - Schools

Question

How can we promote the educational use of Wikipedia offline, especially in remote communities?

Strategy

  1. Work through schools. Provide the necessary data and infrastructure to organizations that aim to bring WMF content to schools.
  2. Schools need to consider national curricula, scholarly topics. We need to support targeted selection for them, including kids topics.
  3. Small, specialist article collections, like chemistry or Mathematics, would be open content for book publishers.
  4. Content should include Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Wikibooks and possibly WikiNews
  5. Distribution would be via USB stick or download, and as books.

Assertion: Schools are a natural distribution point for knowledge

Typically these would use content in an electronic format or in book form. It could be targeted per seat, or served from a central point at the school.

Sub assertion: Schools share a common purpose with us

Schools exist to provide education, so if we want to promote education, schools provide the obvious distribution point for our content.

Sub assertion: Schools already use similar materials

Fact: Encyclopedias are established in the classroom

  • For example World Book, the world's bestselling paper encyclopedia, has a large number of its products geared towards schools.
  • Likewise, dictionaries and textbooks are obviously widely used in the classroom, suggesting that Wiktionary and WikiBooks could find a natural market there.

Fact: Teachers can organize use of materials

The teacher is trained to disseminate educational information, use educational resources (including electronic resources) and engage students in learning.

Sub assertion: Content should include Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Wikibooks and possibly WikiNews

Fact: These correspond with what schools already use

See above for the first three. Some schools use newspaper archives in local libraries for researching world events, etc. WikiNews could provide some of this, at least for recent events.

Fact: Wikipedia, Wikibooks and electronic dictionaries have already proved popular in schools

The Wikipedia for Schools releases have proved popular, despite the small size of the releases (5500 articles maximum), and online traffic is almost as high as for Citizendium. See Task_force/Offline/SJ_Q&A for a description of how One Laptop Per Child has used Wikimedia content successfully in Latin America. User:Wizzy (on this task force) has had extensive experience of distributing Wikipedia offline to schools in South Africa. In both cases, the Wikimedia content has proved to be very well-received.

Sub assertion: Content should be provided in an electronic format

For convenient re-use, the content should be made available in an electronic format that can be read on standard computers. This could be a browser-based reader, or free custom software. The content could be supplied on DVD or a USB memory stick. Computers are already established in many schools in developing countries (see [1]).

Fact: This is how Wikimedia content has been used successfully in the past

Fact: This takes full advantage of the wiki format (internal links, low cost per page, etc)

Sub assertion: Content should also be provided in book format

Schools traditionally use books as their primary educational resource. Even if electronic resources supersede books in many cases, books are likely to remain viable for some time to come. This is especially true in places where computers and electronic devices are less common, or where electric power supply is intermittent (see this example). Books can often be produced inside the target country at low cost.

Assertion: We should improve and encourage content aimed at kids

Fact: our content is aimed at adults, not children

School content initiatives exist, like Wikipedia for schools, vikidia, Wikikids, etc.