Stockholm Challenge Award 2006 Proposal

This is an proposed entry for the Stockholm Challenge Award 2006 - for which Wikipedia would fulfill the guidelines in the education section, which are:

"With the use of ICT, education and training are brought to more and more people in the world. Obstacles like distances and disabilities are overcome with communication technologies. Teaching and learning structures take new paths and new forms of creative and lifelong learning are constantly being developed.
In the Stockholm Challenge Award the Education category targets all people and all ages - and enhances:
  • All school and university level education
  • Training and practice"


Wikipedia is a multilingual, collaborative encyclopedia being developed by tens of thousands of contributors worldwide. Its mission is to provide this resource to everyone, for free, and in their native language. Not only is it free for use (and re-use) but it is also free to be edited and modified, by anyone, under an open, "copyleft" license. It enables this process by using a type of website software, known as a "wiki", which is 'read-write' - as opposed to the vast majority of websites, which are 'read-only'. It has grown since launching in 2001, to contain more than two million articles over a hundred separate language projects. The English Wikipedia alone is developing over 750,000 articles (compared to the 120,000 of the most complete version of Encyclopedia Britannica).

Obviously, the educational value of an encyclopedia is primarily in providing information. Wikipedia endeavours to do this within a "neutral point of view" (NPOV) - a way of describing facts and the debates about those facts and their representation, so that all sides of the argument get to 'have their say'. This means that each article, especially contentious ones are in a constant state of negotiation between its particular authors, each of whom brings their own perspective to the debate, making its construction an inherently educational process. However, this isn't the only way that learning can occur.

Learning within WikipediaEdit

Contributors to Wikipedia have remarked on several ways in which they have developed through editing Wikipedia. Quoting people on what they have learned include:

  • "improved my writing skills"
  • "how do deal with a range of different people"
  • "how to communicate across cultural boundaries"
  • "how to reference material"
  • "how to strike agreements and work towards consensus"
  • "how to question facts (my view of the media after being an active editor on Wikipedia: not impressed)"
  • "how to research"

Here we see evidence of both basic and media literacy, academic skills, as well as cross-cultural communication.

Outcomes of the Wikipedia projectEdit

  • "It gives people a voice they might not otherwise have had"
  • "I think another role it plays is to empower people. Everyday computer users realize that their information is valuable, and that they personally can make a valid contribution to society, whether they have a doctorate, or an elementary school diploma."
  • "It also strikes me as having potential to become the core of an intellectual community in a manner independent of formal academia."