Is WikiPedia blocked at your school or library? Are administrators, teachers, and librarians in your school district wary to permit students to use WikiPedia for research purposes because of its dynamic nature?
If that is the case, a conversation about our universal need for media literacy is probably appropriate. WikiPedia is often a great starting point for research about a variety of topics. As educators, we’ve never suggested that students ONLY use a single source for their research. External links at the bottom of WikiPedia articles are often excellent sources for additional information about topics. For the WikiPedia-averse in our school communities, I recommend advocating for WikiPedia use as a starting point for student research.
WikiPedia does include content which is considered inappropriate for students by some communities, however, and this poses an additional challenge for those advocating for open access to WikiPedia on our heavily-censored networks in U.S. schools. How can these issues be addressed and still permit students to have access to WikiPedia’s rich, diverse, up-to-date and in-depth content?
Welcome to this Wikipedia Selection. This 2008/9 Wikipedia DVD Selection is a free, hand-checked, non-commercial selection from Wikipedia, targeted around the UK National Curriculum and useful for much of the English speaking world. It has about 5500 articles (as much as can be fitted on a DVD with good size images) and is about the size of a twenty volume encyclopaedia (34,000 images and 20 million words).
Wikipedia is the free encyclopaedia anyone can edit, and develops accurate content but suffers vandalism. Wikipedia is not necessarily a childsafe environment and has “adult” content. This selection of topics have been carefully chosen, tidied up, and checked for vandalism and suitability (by SOS Children volunteers, whom we gratefully acknowledge). We also gratefully acknowledge the Wikimedia Foundation for their support and their agreement to our use of the Wikipedia logo, and tens of thousands of contributors to Wikipedia who have written and researched the content in the first place, including this year adding content where gaps in the school curriculum were not covered.
The content is available for free download from the SOS Children website or as a 3.5GB free DVD. The content includes a shortened copy of the SOS Children website with details of projects in 123 countries. This selection is also browsable online at http://schools-wikipedia.org/. The content is covered by various disclaimers and licences.
We live in an amazing, digitally connected world, where educators who may live down the street or half-a-world away can assist us in providing the learning resources we need in our classrooms and homes today. Take the Wikipedia Selection for schools for a spin by browsing its pictorial subject index or its title word index. If you like what you see and want an offline copy, download one for free thanks to SOS Children UK and the Wikimedia Foundation.
Consider making a donation to SOS Children UK as well as to WikiPedia itself.
If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, subscribe to Wes' free newsletter. Check out Wes' video tutorial library, "Playing with Media." Information about more ways to learn with Dr. Wesley Fryer are available on wesfryer.com/after.
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