From the days of Gutenberg, technology has been linked to education. Curriki and Sankoré use open source to bring high-quality education to people who need it, and otherwise cannot access it.
The original wikis
The first documented event where technology became an integrated part of what we know nowadays as a library, both in physical or virtual state, happened in the 1450s. In a time when only the more privileged could have access to education, Johannes Gutenberg empowered others to dream to new horizons. By inventing the printing press he accelerated the diffusion of knowledge on the European continent, and made the first steps in the spread of written information as we know it today.
Based on the same concept as a library, a wiki is a database that manages a large number of documents in a structured way. As the data are collaboratively developed by multiple users and archived in a central location, it allows sharing and access on-the-go, and is often free of charge. Being such an adaptable and flexible technology, wikis are able to satisfy many purposes and objectives.
From the educational standpoint, wikis can be used to structure a huge amount of educational materials, ranging from academic papers, workbooks, teaching slides, and official documents, to grades and notes. The core idea behind such a platform is the philosophy it was built upon. A wiki represents the accumulation of knowledge, know-how and experience that all class members have to offer, on a reciprocal basis and not the results of just one person's expertise. It promotes collective creativity and ownership without removing the sense of responsibility and personal satisfaction. Educational wikis allow their users to create custom apps especially for learning purposes such as dictionary, assignment management, task planning, calendar, event manager, achievement database, and so on.
Open education projects built on open source
Two open education projects that are changing the way teachers educate and students learn are Curriki and Sankoré. They were both created on top of the XWiki open source platform, which is sponsored and mostly developed by XWiki SAS. This solution was considered the most suitable for the above mentioned purpose.
Curriki is a community whose mission is to reduce the educational gap between people who have access to high-quality learning resources and others who don't enjoy the same privilege. Following this vision, they have created an open licensed website to support the collaborative development and the free distribution of learning materials by allowing teachers to share any material relevant to their work. Students are able to search for new lessons and give feedback by rating the available resources. In the situation where something is missing, both parties can fix the problem by simply updating the content.
The Sankoré project, launched in 2009 with the support of the French government, aims to enable the digital side of education to be accessible to developing countries, especially on the African continent. To reach this objective, an interactive whiteboard application and an open licensed platform were developed, allowing both the creation and dissemination of free educational resources. Based on the same platform as Curriki, the Planète Sankoré website allows teachers and students to use a range of educational materials, collaboratively managed and developed by the platform's members.
Using an open source wiki supported by a worldwide community not only offers free access to years of development and expertise, but also gives unlimited, free-of-charge community support for further improvements and bug fixes in a short time. Both Curriki and Sankoré are the living proof that by using open source wiki technology, and allowing access to free resources, humanity is able to offer educational support to those in need.