In my view, Wikipedia rates as one of the greatest human accomplishments of all time. In a mere 12 years, Wikipedia has become a credible online encyclopedia containing over 24 million articles in 285 languages. (4.1 million of the articles are in English.) Perhaps most remarkable of all, this invaluable resource has been created and refined almost entirely by unpaid volunteers. This is meaningful work that hundreds of thousands of people have done, just because they wanted to do it. This is engagement!
There are many things I appreciate about Wikipedia, but one of the things I like best is that nearly 100,00 of its articles are offered in ‘Simple English‘. As Wikipedia puts it, this is because “the Simple English Wikipedia is for everyone!” The explicit target is children, as well as adults who are learning English. One of the fundamental tenets of Universal Design and of Universal Design for Learning is that when we design for people in the margins, everyone tends to benefit. This is clearly borne out in the Simple English Wikipedia!
When it comes to Wikipedia, I have chosen to put at least a little of my money where my mouth is. Because I have contributed financially, this week Wikipedia sent me links to a couple of powerful videos that I want to share here. The first is a beautiful portrayal of the children in the Amazon rainforest village of Palestina, Peru who created the Wikipedia article about their village.
The second video shows just a few of the many wonderful people, just like you and me, from around the world who have contributed to Wikipedia.