Wiki generated, free textbooks


Now here’s some serious competition for the traditional print media publishers – WikiJunior, a project of WikiBooks, aims to…

…produce a series of full-color booklets for children aged 8 to 11. The subjects will be appealing to kids, and the writing will be light and friendly. These booklets will be richly illustrated with photographs, diagrams, sketches, and original drawings. The texts will also follow a format, so that each booklet, while different, will also have certain common features.

Using wiki technology and an open community format, over a 1,000 textbooks are being assembled online (with some PDF and print versions as well). Titles include Accounting, Chess, European History, Physiology, Managing Groups and Teams, Ecology and more.

I downloaded a PDF copy of the solar system booklet – 97 pages packed with information and images. The layout is pretty basic from a design perspective, consisting largely of headings and blocks of text, with the occasional image inserted here and there. The image quality is pretty good on the whole. The main headings are phrased as questions that students may come seeking an answer to, but without an index of them it’s pretty hit and miss as to whether you’ll find the question you want. I’d have to say that the language level may be a bit challenging for many students in the target age group – many comparable published texts that I’ve watched my 9-year old become engrossed in would have a greater amount of visual material including annotated graphics etc to make it easier to access the meaning of some of the scientific and technical terms.

That said, this is an interesting development which will deserve to be followed to see how it develops and how the resources being produced are used.

A further 8 pages follow that provide details of the GNU Free Documentation License which tells you what you are able to do with regards copying and distributing copies of the booklet.

Thanks to Kevin Kruse for the heads up on this one

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