Wikimedia as an Educational Tool

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:
Package: mediawiki
Priority: optional
Section: web
Installed-Size: 45752
Maintainer: Mediawiki Maintenance Team Architecture: all
Version: 1:1.15.5-2squeeze1
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
Filename: pool/main/m/mediawiki/mediawiki_1.15.5-2squeeze1_all.deb
Size: 11715418
MD5sum: befce32fefe84c2bc3efdefa9c6ce111
SHA1: e5981355e3f6d3ee8a40144a4d87d12af507d96a
SHA256: a91572165802425727f0aeea94395a1c750433deb9ea0a055d7dcc89ee0dc84e
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.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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