Here at the Saylor Foundation, we are eagerly awaiting the start of Wikimania 2012, this year’s worldwide conference on all things Wiki-related. This year the conference is being hosted in our hometown of Washington, DC, July 11th through 14th at the George Washington University. We are proud to announce our sponsorship of this exciting international event and will be attending with the hope of learning more about the hundreds of different projects and opportunities presented by this community who all share a passion for information and technology.
So you might be wondering – why are we so excited about Wikimania? Well, it’s simple really: both organizations – Saylor and the Wikimedia Foundation – are working to free education and knowledge.
The official mission of the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF), the non-profit parent organization to Wikipedia and many other projects, is “to empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally.” With this in mind, its easy to see how the many Wikimedia projects and Saylor.org are working towards similar goals.
Both organizations embrace the idea that one of the greatest potential uses of modern technology is to empower individuals across the globe to educate themselves using freely-available resources. Of course, we, at Saylor.org, go about it in a very different manner than WMF by offering free educational materials in the form of full college-level courses.
Wikipedia – the largest of the WMF’s projects – is the largest compendium of information in human history and has been created over the past dozen years by hundreds of thousands of individual contributors. It is the 6th most-visited site in the entire world, and its almost 4 million articles represent an amazing source of information about nearly every subject imaginable.
However where Wikipedia exists as a reference tool, Saylor.org aims to provide a more robust learning experience. Sure, if you wanted to learn about chemistry you could soak up a lot from reading the 6,159 articles that fall under the domain of Wikiproject Chemistry. However, Saylor.org aims to give learners a more robust and directed method for exploring this topic, one that is more akin to a college-level course of study. Of course, Wikipedia remains an excellent tool for students, one that can synergize with self-directed study as is offered here at Saylor.org.
In the end, both projects represent different approaches to the same underlying understanding that knowledge is no longer something that needs to be restricted to the privileged. The Wikimedia Foundation devotes most of its resources to reaching the broadest audience possible, leaving the creation and refining its projects to volunteer efforts. While the audience for Saylor.org isn’t as large or diverse as that of Wikipedia, we’re confident that our reach will continue to grow and encompass more and more people around the world as we focus on providing the highest-quality resources available. We look forward to connecting with everyone at Wikimania to learn how, together, we can make high-quality education freely available to individuals around the world.
Image available via Wikipedia.