Thursday, January 5, 2012

Offline Wikipedia for Indian Schools

Dear Friends,

A veteran wikipedian in Pune, Ashwin Baindur, has started an ambitious project to compile a free offline digital encyclopedia for spreading to schools and homes all over India. This project will source the articles from wikipedia but will be child-friendly and available to use without any internet connection, and can run on even the slowest "dabba" PCs commonly seen in our government and low-income schools. More details in the forwarded email below.

Once compiled, spreading it will be as easy as sharing movies with your buddies - plug in a pen drive and Ctrl+C (copy), Ctrl+V (paste). If taken up passionately and spread virally, we can bridge the digital divide and bring a huge trove of knowledge to kids and teachers all over the nation who have never seen anything like it before.

.. read what is written there and start chipping in with article requests. This project is still in the compiling stage and needs your help. You need to think aloud and contribute the names of any and every India-specific thing that you can think of : places, people, festivals, culture, wildlife - whatever you think is a good general knowledge source that ought to be accessible to every student in India. You don't need to have any technical expertise to help here - just type in and you're done. There's space for over 3000 articles here, so be generous - jo bheje mein aaya daal do, editing koi aur lega.

The above link is just a google doc I created that'll make things easy for novices. If you want to go to the main page, go here:

The OWIS project can take anywhere from a few months to a couple of years to complete, depending on how many volunteers can get involved. So, as Kiran Bir Sethi has advised, share shamelessly

Meanwhile, if you want to put the existing and ready "Wikipedia for Schools" offline encyclopedia that has over 6000 GK articles (but not many Indian ones hence OWIS) into the computers in your school and community, then you can download it from here: (2.7 GB) and contact me if any doubts. Read about it here. I put that in along with several other free resources in a rural school run by Manav Sadhana in Gandhinagar as part of a volunteer activity around Christmas 2011, I wish I had pics of the way the teachers' faces lit up when they saw it! :)

Nikhil ShethGrade 3 Teacher
Lt. Smt. Shantabai Ladkat School, Nanapeth
Pune, India

TEACH FOR INDIA Fellow, 2011-13

From: Ashwin Baindur
Subject: [Wikimediaindia-l] Announcing - WikiProject Offline Wikipedia for Indian Schools

(WikiProject Offline Wikipedia for Indian Schools)

Dear friends,

This is to announce the beginning of a new project for WikiProject India - WikiProject Offline Wikipedia for Indian Schools (OWIS). For quite some time now, there has been a need for an offline wikipedia compilation suitable to Indian schools. There are, and have always been, a whole lot of Indian schools and students out there who do not have access to an English encyclopedia. The web has killed off a whole range of printed encyclopedias and factbooks besides paid encyclopedia packages such as Encarta. If the school does not provide wide-spread, regular and dependable access to the web. then the students have zilch. So, keeping in mind that English Wikipedia has been around for more than a decade and has more than enough material for an encyclopedia, we began this project so that all interested people could pitch in and collectively prepare such offline compilations which are the need of the hour.

About the Wikiproject
To do this, we began a new WikiProject in English Wikipedia, daughter to WikiProject India. Titled WikiProject Offline Wikipedia for Indian Schools (OWIS), it is intended to be the umbrella WikiProject for all Indian versions of offline English language wikipedias for students and communities. The WikiProject will concentrate on content issues and leave the production to a team of technically oriented guys from the community (to be decided later).

You can read about the WikiProject page here:

Under this WikiProject, it is proposed to provide a variety of compilations suitable for various needs, such as a full offline encyclopedia, single disc collations on topics related to India etc.

The first project

To begin with, we felt it is best to create a single DVD compilation with all subjects covered in sufficient detail. We have named it as Offline Wikipedia for Indian Schools (Full version) or OWIS-FULL (in short).

It is based on and will be similar to the SOS Children's Village Offline Wikipedia for School which you can checkout for yourself at this link:

The project page for this first project is here:

The SOS village compilation is CD based with approximately 6500 articles based on the British educational syllabus. Naturally, it contains a large number of topics relevant only to the UK and has a distinct Western flavour in its overall choice too, which is only natural.

To make this compilation suitable for our environment, we will have to not only add a whole host of new articles on Indian topics to the compilation but also remove topics/articles irrelevant to Indian students. In addition, the SOS Children's Encyclopaedia, being in existence for the last few years, is designed to fit on a CD with the consequence that the number of articles on a subject cover a subject satisfactorily but skimpily. Since we plan our compilation to be on a DVD, there is scope to improve coverage on all subjects as well. Hence it is planned to have in the region of around 9000 articles.

So where are we now? As a first step we have established the framework in the form of the WikiProject and pages where one can work. The list of topics from the SOS compilation has been prepared subjectwise. These lists need to be vetted/improved/extended and then finalised.

As of now, six subjects have been opened up for topic selection - Art, IT, Maths, Physics, Biology and Chemistry. We need motivated editors to join the teams and pitch in. The selection of topics needs to be completed in ten days time so that we can move on to other subjects, other tasks.

So, if this venture interests you, if you want to do something really important with us, if you agree with our proposition that this is critical for delivering the potential of Wikipedia to digitally-challenged communities, sign up here:

All the best to all of us to successfully complete this vital project.

This email is being reflected on Wikimedia India list for information. But If you would like to respond to this, please respond to on the  English Wikipedia for India mailing list -

Everyone is welcome to subscribe to it.

Ashwin Baindur

Wikimediaindia-l mailing list

1 comment:

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