For many schools in developing countries, internet access is limited or even non-existent. The idea behind the Wikipedia for Schools project was to make this vital learning resource available to children who would really benefit from the broad spread of information Wikipedia had to offer.
At the same time, the selection taken would be checked to ensure all content was suitable for school-age children, and organised in line with the UK national curriculum to maximise usability and relevance in schools.
The 2013 edition will see Schools Wikipedia receive a facelift, giving it a fresh new image as well as a substantial increase in size. We are currently in the very last stages of finalising the new version and very much look forward to announcing its release in the coming weeks.
You can check out the test site by visiting http://schools-wikipedia-test.soschildren.org. And if anything strikes you as odd, we'd be really grateful if you could let us know by tweeting us @sos_children, visiting us on Facebook or Google+, or just by dropping us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A well-established resource
The project’s history goes back to 2005, when preparations for the first edition began. When the first edition was released in April of the following year, talks with the Wikimedia Foundation, the charity which operates Wikipedia, were still ongoing. Permission had not yet been granted to use the branding and logo of the live Wikipedia site, and so the first edition was released onto CD under the name “A World of Learning”.
Shortly after release, permission was granted for SOS Children to use the Wikipedia brand and logo. A World of Learning was renamed “Wikipedia for Schools” and relaunched in April 2007. The second edition, released onto DVD, was much bigger than A World of Learning, containing 5000 articles to the first version’s 2006.
In 2008/9, a much larger third edition was released. Comprising enough material to span 20 encyclopaedia volumes, Schools Wikipedia had by now become the definitive offline resource for schools in the developing world. The online edition continues to enjoy considerable success in the UK and beyond, with an estimated 5 million users worldwide.
This year, Wikipedia for Schools 2013 will be released onto USB stick instead of disk, making it more compact and easier to distribute, as well as accommodating a considerable increase in size.
Over the past few months, a huge amount of energy has been dedicated to ensuring the latest version is the best yet, and we're very excited about the re-release.
We anticipate Wikipedia for Schools 2013 will build on the success of previous editions, proving an invaluable resource to children in the developing world as well as schools the world over.
Feel free to take a look at Wikipedia for Schools 2008/9 by visiting http://schools-wikipedia.org. You can also explore the 2013 test site at http://schools-wikipedia-test.soschildren.org. If you'd like to download Wikipedia for School or read more about the project in more detail, you can read more on our SOS Schools site at http://www.sos-schools.org/wikipedia-for-schools.