The mobile phone is becoming an effective tool for learning in the Philippines through an innovative partnership between Wikimedia Foundation which operates Wikipedia, the world’s largest online encyclopedia, and the country’s leading mobile phone operator Smart Communications, Inc.
Wikipedia usage among Smart, Talk ‘N Text, and Sun Cellular subscribers has more than doubled since the launch of a program providing free and unlimited access to Wikipedia in March of this year.
Smart started offering Wikipedia access for free using its PowerApp mobile Internet platform. Subscribers only had to download the PowerApp mobile application and send a text code to avail themselves of the service.
Last September, Smart and Wikimedia launched the Wikipedia Zero offer in the Philippines to give Smart, Talk ‘N Text, and Sun Cellular’s 68.9 million customers unlimited access to m.wikipedia.org, zero.wikipedia.org, Wikipedia apps (available on iOS and Android devices), and other Wikimedia sites on their mobile device, free of data charges. The program will initially run until February 3, 2015.
“Filipinos are keen to learn about the world. By making Wikipedia easily accessible through mobile devices, we are putting a huge virtual library of information in the hands of people wherever they go. This is great for students, professionals, and whoever needs to get information quickly,” said Smart public affairs head Ramon R. Isberto.
“Wikipedia Zero and our other programs with Wikimedia fit perfectly into Smart’s overall drive to promote digital inclusion, particularly through the use of mobile technology for learning,” he added.
Wikipedia Zero is a global Wikimedia initiative to provide access to knowledge to people around the world who cannot afford mobile data charges. More details about Smart’s Wikipedia Zero program can be found at http://smart.com.ph/freewikipedia.
Mobile tech to drive learning
Aside from collaborating with Wikimedia to make Wikipedia Zero available to its subscribers, Smart has been working with Wikimedia Philippines for the “Tap & Learn: Tablets for Education” project. Under this program, Filipino Wikipedia editors help train educators from public elementary and secondary schools across the country on how to use Wikipedia to enhance the learning experience of their students, as well as for their own professional development.
“Smart’s emphasis on education is aligned with the Wikimedia Foundation’s global mission,” said Carolynne Schloeder, head of global mobile partnerships at Wikimedia. “We’re thrilled to support both Smart and our local partners at Wikimedia Philippines in their efforts to realize this mission, including their groundbreaking partnerships to to incorporate Wikipedia into public education.”
“We have always looked for and promoted ways to use technology and mobile communications to drive learning and consequently, development,” Isberto said.
Partnership for tourism promotion
Smart and Wikimedia Philippines also partnered for WikiExpedition, a series of cultural mapping activities with the objective of promoting heritage sites, museums, and other places of interest in the country.
The first WikiExpedition activity was held last September in historic Santa Ana, Manila. Twenty-three Wikimedia Philippines representatives and volunteers took photos and mapped more than 40 heritage sites in the area. Photos and articles were uploaded to Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons, while GPS coordinates were plotted onto the Philippine Heritage Map.
“Through programs like WikiExpedition, we are making tourism an effective means of helping Filipinos and foreign visitors learn about the culture and history of the Philippines,” Isberto said.