Charity Home > SOS News > Alan Johnson and Wikipedia

Alan Johnson and Wikipedia


Wikipedia logo

Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary, is reported at the NASUWT conference as encouraging pupils toward Wikipedia. But NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates was more cautious about the suitability. Neither apparently are aware that a schools-orientated child-friendly selection from Wikipedia is freely available both online and as a downloadable CD from SOS Children.

Each year SOS Children's volunteers check thousands of Wikipedia articles chosen for quality, interest to children, relevance to the National Curriculum and publish them for free. Last year's CD was praised in Norway, distributed by the Shuttleworth Foundation to schools in South Africa and resold by an entrepreneur on Ebay in India! More than 50,000 people braved the 200MB free download from the SOS Children website and the online version has got millions of visitors. It even has its own article on Wikipedia (google for "2006 Wikipedia CD Selection"). The 2007 version will be released shortly before the end of April.

Andrew Cates, the charity CEO and himself both a parent and a Wikipedia administrator (with the pen-name "BozMo") commented "Alan Johnson is on the right track with Wikipedia but only halfway there. Not only is there extremely explicit material on Wikipedia but also 35 of the pages we chose this year had been vandalised. We remain greatly endebted to the volunteers who spent so long checking all the material."

The 2007 version has great promise, and will be free to browse online and as a 900 MB download. Andrew said "Last year we mainly concentrated on Geography, Science and fun topics like Space Exploration and Dinosaurs. This year as well as extending the content to cover Key Stage 2 & 3 History articles, and many current affairs topics, we are putting a lot more effort into user-friendly navigation and content searches. We are also delighted that the Wikimedia Foundation, which owns Wikipedia, have agreed to us using their logo for the publication."

And what of politicians? Will the article on Alan Johnson be included? Andrew again "Either wait and see, or go and find the project pages on Wikipedia where it is being discussed and ask there". That is the great thing about open source projects: in principle you can find out anything online!

Schools Wikipedia Return to Schools Wikipedia Home page