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Schools get offline Wikipedia as CD version is released

BILLOW KERROW
By | January 19th 2011

By Michael Oriedo

Teachers and students in primary and secondary schools will soon be able to access Wikipedia Encyclopedia offline.

This follows the launching of Wikipedia for Schools Project in Kenya by Wikipedia Foundation and a team of Wikipedia volunteers in Kenya.

The CD version of the encyclopaedia allows students to access content on the acclaimed and most frequented encyclopaedia without being on the Internet.

"The encyclopedia would promote information technology in schools and provide teachers and students with relevant information they do not have," said Paul Ochieng, the Dean of Students at Strathmore University where the project was launched. Ochieng noted that some schools have one book in certain subjects, which hampers students learning.

"The offline version of Wikipedia would be a welcome relief for many schools as an additional resource material," he said.

Critical content

He added that the CD would make the encyclopedia available to all students and teachers, particularly in schools, which do not have internet connection.

Mr Ting Chen, the chairperson of Wikimedia Foundation said that they came up with the version to remove barriers that hinder people from accessing information.

"Lack of Internet has been a great impediment for the access of Wikipedia Encyclopedia. We came with this version to remove blockades that prevent people from getting information on Wikipedia," he said.

Chen said Wikipedia Encyclopedia contains plenty of free educational materials, which would greatly benefit Kenya’s students.

"This initiative will enhance access to free information, especially critical educational content," he said.

Mr David Mugo, a Wikipedia Volunteer said that the team would start by identifying several schools in the country where they would install and configure the offline edition in computers.

In addition, the schools would be provided with a hard copy of the offline Wikipedia, for recovery purposes and a printed Wikipedia guide to assist them," he said.

Teachers and students would then be trained on how to use the encyclopaedia successfully.

"We would give out two lectures at each school, one for the teachers, and another for students. These two tutorials will teach the groups how to maximally benefit when using Wikipedia Encyclopedia," he said.

The project, to be started this January, will be piloted in schools in three regions namely Mombasa, Nyeri and Kakamega.

The aim of this initiative is to bring improved access to free information and build students knowledge in primary and secondary schools.

Wikipedia Encyclopedia is among the top most visited site across the world. However, lack of access to Internet by a majority of people hinders its use.

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