For years, I have travelled the northern parts of Canada dragging a server with a snapshot of Wikipedia taken in 2005. It’s a great tool for schools. Students and teachers can add material relevant to them and edit articles to reflect the northern viewpoint. The body of knowledge in the wiki grows with time and becomes part of the history or the community and the school. It is a great resource for documenting special people, places and events.
I am not alone doing this. A professor reports that students do better work when their research gets posted on Wikipedia where the world can see, read and criticize it. Nothing teaches reading, writing and thinking better than doing those things in bulk.
Wikimedia is a package in Debian GNU/Linux:
Maintainer: Mediawiki Maintenance Team
Depends: apache2 | httpd, php5, php5-mysql | php5-pgsql | php5-sqlite, mime-support, debconf (>= 0.5) | debconf-2.0
Recommends: mysql-server | postgresql-contrib, php5-cli
Suggests: imagemagick | php5-gd, mediawiki-math, memcached, clamav
Description: website engine for collaborative work
MediaWiki is a wiki engine (a program for creating a collaboratively edited website). It is designed to handle heavy websites containing library-like document collections, and supports user uploads of images/sounds, multilingual content, TOC autogeneration, ISBN links,
Moreover, it keeps track of changes, so users can receive notifications, view diffs and revert edits. This system has many other features and can easily be extended.
Tag: implemented-in::php, interface::web, made-of::html, network::service, role::dummy, role::program, web::wiki, works-with::db, works-with::text, works-with-format::html
Wikipedia dumps are available.
A recent dump (enwiki-20110405-pages-articles.xml.bz2) is 6.7gB… That’s far more text than some libraries in schools where I have worked. Of course, one can start from scratch and make a wiki entirely in-house or take only selected articles for import.