Love it or hate it Wikipedia is a big part of our lives and its certainly a big part of our online browsing experience. Whether we admit to it or not many people consult Wikipedia on a regular basis to answer their questions. A large part of this is due to the fact that Google loves Wikipedia more than any other site on the Internet. In fact it gets presented as the top search result to more search queries than anything else, even Google itself.
Anyway, one of the challenges for educators using Wikipedia is trying to get students to use it appropriately and really to understand what it is and what it can do.
This series of posts should give you a few ideas.
7 things you didn’t know about Wikipedia (7 of 7) – It has many sisters
Wikipedia is just one of a number of projects run by the Wikimedia Foundation. It is their most successful project to date – but in addition to Wikipedia, the foundation operates other wikis that follow the free content model with their main goal being the dissemination of knowledge.
These projects include:
Description: collection of textbooks
Description: online newspaper
Name: Wikimedia Commons
Description: repository of images, sounds, videos, and general media.
Description: collection of quotations
Description: collection of tutorials and courses, while also serving as a hosting point to coordinate research.
Description: travel guide
Name: Description: digital library
Just like Wikipedia many of these other Wikimedia project have got great potential in Education. Perhaps the most useful is Wikimedia Commons which at the time of writing is a database of 23,736,813 freely usable media files to which anyone can contribute under an Open Content License.
Content under open content licenses may be reused without any need to contact the licensor(s), but you still need to keep in mind that:
- some licenses require that the original creator be attributed;
- some licenses require that the specific license be identified when reusing (including, in some cases, stating or linking to the terms of the license);
- some licenses require that if you modify the work, your modifications must also be similarly freely licensed.
Now you might be thinking that a lot of the content on Commons might not be particularly high quality. But then you would be absolutely wrong. Just about all of the content is of massive historical and cultural importance. Not to mention that many of the images, sounds, illustrations and memories within Commons are quite simply breathtaking. Take a look at this presentation from Nicola Yeeles on SlideShare titled "Ten extraordinary images from the Wikimedia commons" - simply outstanding (and free to use!).