User:GastelEtzwane/Kiwix and offline Wikipedia Workshop
The Workshop covers three key aspects of increasing awareness of off-line Wikipedia. The workshop is planned with school teachers in mind. Kiwix allows them to access the content of Wikipedia in areas where they have no internet access. But even in very remote areas, school teachers mostly have a computer or tablet.
- If there is one available, the Wifi Hotspot should be turned on and at least one smartphone connected.
- A (portable) beamer would be nice but not indispensable.
- Water should be available at all times, and snacks and a noon meal should also be provided. Hospitality is very important.
- Greetings to all.
- This will be a workshop and everybody is expected to participate.
- We will be talking about the Wikipedia online encyclopedia and the Kiwix program which allows us to access its content in areas where there is no internet.
I have found that one good starting point with school teachers is Microsoft Encarta. This encyclopedia is quite popular with school teachers and they could easily copy and share it. Quite a few teachers have therefore already used an electronic encyclopedia.
- Who knows Wikipedia?
- Who has used Wikipedia to provide information for the courses you give?
- Who has searched for information on the web?
- Who has noticed that Google will display information from Wikipedia at the top of the page?
Kiwix on USB or Hard Drive
This part usually works better if attendees do this discovery by teams of two (maximum three/four). The different parts are done "Collectively" or "Individually".
- Starting the program. Collective
- - Open the Kiwix Folder
- - Start the program
- - If the attendees cannot find the program, the logo is a small bird. Sometimes the program will be displayed as "kiwix.exe" sometimes just "kiwix"
- Attendees explore the encyclopedia by following links. No indications are given, just tell them to "look around the encyclopedia" Individual
- After a while, run the group as a whole through a series of articles. The whole group goes through the same articles Collective
- - Start by typing in the name of an article like "Sénégal", then the city or region we are in.
- - Follow links to similar articles.
- - Locate articles by searching for them in the search box.
- - Infoboxes and article headers.
- - References - unfortunately, these web sources will not be accessible offline.
- Can I learn something new? Individual
- Each attendee searches for articles on a matter in which the attendee is an expert (ie the subject matter he teaches). Make a list of articles which are incomplete. Have the attendees learned something new even if the article is not complete? - The attendees share the articles which they have found useful.
- Challenge: find an article that is woefully inadequate as compared to school textbooks. Collective
- - Make a list of the articles
- - Use this to explain that if one is connected to the internet, we can just add the missing information to the encyclopedia. Explain how contributing should be done:
- Create an account.
- Write the text that is added with no grammar or spelling mistakes.
- The contributions should be sourced.
- The subject of updating the downloaded zim files will be covered later on during the Workshop.
Internet-in-a-box or Kiwix Plug
Talk about the Kiwix hotspot which is not connected to the internet. Show the device, and show how it works but do not unplug it. Explain that it has been active since the start of the Workshop, and anyone can connect.
- The wifi network is called "Internet in a box", there is no password.
- Once connected, open a browser and type "http://box.lan" (with a letter "L")
- One probably needs to turn off mobile data
It is important to stress the fact that attendees will not be on the internet, this wifi device will not provide Facebook. It will only allow users to access what has been downloaded and stored on the SD memory card.
- Once people are connected, go through the same steps as above
Comparing tte two solutions
Depending on the audience present, it is worth holding a discussion (or debate) comparing the relative merits of the two solutions:
- USB sticks are quite common and can be easily obtaines.
- An Internet-in-a-Box device costs less than a large (64 Gb) USB stick but it needs a battery pack and is not produced locally.
- A USB stick is a familiar object.
This is also the time to discuss finances: how much it will cost to provide USB sticks for everybody, or to put Internet-in-a-Box devices in the teacher's work areas in all of the schools. Who will pay for this? What kind of money raising can they think of? (remember that fund raising is a foreign concept in Senegal).
It is not possible, for the moment, to update the zim files. We just download the newest version. Besides, the download can be done using the torrent (Bit Torrent) network in areas with poor internet connexion, it is quite difficult to upgrade software when the connexion is unstable.
The offline Wikipedia files and the Kiwix program are free and Open Source. They can be freely copied and shared with friends and colleagues.
- Everything is in the Kiwix Folder
- Copy the folder onto another device, a large USB key of a portable hard drive.
- The new copy will work straight away.
It is also necessary to collect contact information from all of the attendees, and to organize a telephone tree so that they can recieve regular information by phone. Those who teach in schools where there is no phone service travel back to larger towns quite frequently and connect at that time.
A closing ceremony is a nice touch, with a distribution of certificates of participation for the Workshop.