Bringing academia to the Internet era - a revolution in knowledge sharing
Submitted by Srijan Agarwal (@srijancse) on Friday, 28 October 2016
Technical level: Beginner
The KDE community has always strongly believed in openness, in free and open source software. Today, we’re taking this mission one step further, by bringing openness to the most important intellectual production of humanity: knowledge itself. And we’re not doing it alone, but with the help of institutions and professors all around the globe.
WikiToLearn is an open platform where students, researchers and key people in the academia can create and refine notes and text books, tailored precisely to their needs, and giving them the power to customize the teaching beyond what traditional textbooks allow. Our philosophy inherits from the very foundation of how science works. We believe that “Knowledge only grows if shared” and we want learners to “Stand on the shoulder of giants!”
What is WikiToLearn?
WikiToLearn wants to provide free, collaborative and accessible text books to the whole world. Our philosophy can be summarised as: “knowledge only grows if shared”. We provide a platform where learners and teachers can complete, refine and re-assemble lecture notes in order to create textbooks, tailored precisely to their needs, so that you can “stand on the shoulders of giants”.
Why is it an innovation?
WikiToLearn does not offer new knowledge. WikiToLearn offers a new approach to knowledge: it rediscovers and reproposes the attitude, now almost forgotten by mankind, that led our civilization to take the huge steps that have brought us here today, with our endless heritage of knowledge. Without the collaboration and the communication among the people, without the free availability of knowledge, no big discovery would have been possible. This is what we are trying to restore. We are driven by the love for free knowledge, owned by no one and accessible to everyone.
As volunteers, freely collaborating between us, we want to make this vision possible. Open source gains in this context a profound and significant meaning, merging naturally with our philosophy.
Any content can be modified: this leads to a continuous development of the existing material, to the collaboration and communication among learners.
Everything on WikiToLearn is freely accessible and can be downloaded: in this way knowledge is made available to everyone.
Why should I contribute?
It is really important that users contribute to the writing and the improvement of the contents. This is the only way the project can be successful and be able to continue to grow. Your contribution, as small as it could be, is and will always be fundamental.
Finding already existent, well organized and freely accessible material can be really useful. However, always bear in mind that you can find it only because someone decided to contribute to create it.
Moved/Driven by what? Perhaps by our same vision: the desire to see, at last, a change in the approach to knowledge. Perhaps because so you can really feel useful and part of something great, with the power change the world.
I’m a university student, I don’t have time for this…
Your contribution is, of course, not solely dedicated in making WikiToLearn bigger: writing and summarizing are excellent tools that will help you to prepare for exams, as well as to improve your explanation skills. Moreover, this is often the best way to realize what you did not understand, and in case you make a mistake, someone will correct you.
But I’m a teacher!
WikiToLearn is an excellent workout for the students, but it is also a really useful tool for the teachers.
Reviewing the notes of your students will help you to be aware of their understanding of each lesson, which gives you valuable feedback on the effectiveness of your teaching. You can then customize your classes in order to optimize the educational path.
The students will consolidate their knowledge by writing their notes in a more organized way and, thanks to your thorough checking and improving, they will be able to create evolving, evolving, exhaustive, proofread and beautifully formatted textbooks.
Who “makes” WikiToLearn?
The project is promoted and coordinated by a community of people, often experts in their own field, who write, review and organize the content. WikiToLearn is a KDE¹ project sponsored by Wikimedia.
All material on WikiToLearn is collected on the platform MediaWiki (the same software used by Wikipedia) and strictly released under free license: Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 (BY-SA).
¹ KDE is one of the largest open source projects in the world, active in the software world since 1997. Thousands of developers are active every day, and the software they create runs on millions of devices of all kinds. KDE is legally represented by a non-profit foundation based in Germany, which regularly participates in international research projects.
None. All you need to be is a FOSS enthusiast.
I’m currently pursuing a degree in Computer Science with strong mathematical background. Working as a part of a talented team comes naturally to me. I love to contribute to open source projects that would have a worldwide impact.
As I’m an Open Source enthusiast, I have contributed to open source projects like KDE, MediaWiki and WikiToLearn. I was selected for Google Summer of Code 2016 program as a Student Developer under KDE organisation. My project was to build an Offline Extension that adds offline support to the WikiEditor used by WikiToLearn, a project sponsored by KDE and Wikimedia Foundation.
Currently, I’m working as a Core Developer at WikiToLearn. Also a Google Code-In Mentor for WikiToLearn. I have given talks at few occasions about WikiToLearn at BITS Pilani Hyderabad Campus, Mediawiki Hackathon Amrita University, FUDCon Cambodia, WikiToLearn India Conference 2017 and will be speaking at FOSSASIA Summit 2017, Singapore.
At college, I also got an opportunity to be part of ThinkFOSS, which is a technical startup offering technical training, online courses, and solutions for computer science professionals and students. It aims at increasing the technical know-how of University students in India, and bringing them closer to Open source development.