Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Apps for Accessing Wikipedia Information

Wikipedia has become an institution on the internet. It is a powerful and free online encyclopedia that is continuously updated and maintained by it’s own contributors. In the last couple of years it has instigated a number of changes that have allowed teachers to feel more comfortable using Wikipedia as a general source of information. It provides articles on almost everything imaginable as well as illustrating these articles with a host of images. Because it is a wiki it is constantly updated, reviewed and referenced.

The App Store contains dozens of different Wikipedia apps that are able to access this wealth of information, but some are able to do it more effectively than others. WikiNodes is one that I believe does it exceptionally well.

WikiNodes is an app produced by IDEA.org. WikiNodes puts the knowledge of Wikipedia at your fingertips, literally. Articles are displayed as nodes that you can touch, drag, and spin around. Tap any node, and it expands to give you more information. Or, switch to a full-page view to display articles as pages, then scroll up and down. Nodes link together sections of Wikipedia articles and related topics, making ir easy for you to make links between connected areas of your research
WikiNodes is just so intuitive to use. The web like interface is one that is easily read. It has a cool interactive feel to the process of delving into information. You actually feel as though you are digging deeper and deeper into the information. I think the kids will love this too.
WikiNodes is fantastic for visual learner. Because the Nodes are connected by the web structure the students can make assumptions about how the information is related and what events or incidents had an impact of the concept.

The best thing about this app is that as a teacher this is exactly how I want to students to be thinking. I want them to be able to instinctively make the connections with other ideas and then link connected concepts across different disciplines and even across different historical eras. WikiNodes gives the students an opportunity to see how the information is related and what the connections are between the different nodes of information. This at best can lead to a deeper level of understanding of how the parts fit within the complex issue or concept. At worst the students can see the explicit links between different sets of facts or data. This is the perfect tool for modeling these research ideas and for making these connections concrete.

These are interesting features when you consider how you might use WikiNodes in the classroom. One of the ways I have used it is as a virtual tour. The students present to small groups using a researched path of Nodes. The rest of the class discover the information as they follow the set path the student has already researched. This again gives the students the opportunity make connections.

What are some of the other Apps for accessing Wikipedia information?
Discover - Free
Discover is another amazing way to view Wikipedia. Developed by the guys behind the popular CoolIris extension, Discover brings Wikipedia to your iPad in a beautiful and elegant magazine format. The App has a gorgeous user interface and presents a new article from Wikipedia everyday as the homepage. Use the magical touch capability of the iPad to flick left, right, top or bottom and you’ll discover exciting new features.

Articles for iPad - $5.49 AU
Articles for iPad presents Wikipedia articles in a fashionable way and has a great interface. It has also won the Apple Design Award 2010 and lets you discover Wikipedia articles easily. You can also save images from articles to your camera roll. The “Surprise Me” feature automatically loads a random article from Wikipedia. Just shake your iPad and the App would pop up an article that would interest you.

Wikibot -- A Wikipedia Articles Reader - $2.99 AU
Wikibot makes reading Wikipedia articles a joy on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. Between the beautifully crafted interface, customizable display options, and killer features like tabbed browsing, language switching, a read-later queue and offline caching, there is a lot to love about Wikibot.

Wiki Offline -- A Wikipedia Experience $10.49 AU
Wiki Offline delivers flexibility for the Wikipedia experience. The full text of all Wikipedia articles are stored to your iPhone/iPad/iPod. You will literally hold the world's knowledge in the palm of your hands. No more worrying about slow internet connections, overage bandwidth charges, or traveling to areas without internet, because with Wiki Offline, Wikipedia will be there for you, whenever you need it.

Wikipedia is now officially on the iPhone! This is our official application and we are working hard on making the absolute best Wikipedia app out there. This app is focused on being very simple and very fast. Over time, we'll add features based on requests. The code is 100% open source and community built. If you are a programmer and good at JS/HTML5, then come and help us out!

Wikipanian for iPad - FREE
Perfect access to Wikipedia for the iPad that supports offline reading and bookmarks. It presents Wikipedia articles in the normal Wikipedia way with pictures and links. You could either tap to view a link or tap and hold the link to add the link to the queue. The App even has a lite version.

Simplepedia  - FREE
This App has offline reading, font customization, in page search and a great user interface. You could search Wikipedia using the search bar and the App would also make quick recommendations. With a single tap you could access the table of contents and choose to save the article for offline reading. You could also choose to mail the article, update it or open it in Safari.

Wikiamo - FREE
Sure, it lacks some of the features included in many of the paid Wikipedia apps out there, but it is fast and clean without bothering you with any ads. Plus, it contains the ability to bookmark entire pages, call up your recent history, change font sizes, and it even caches your last view page.

Experience Wikipedia in a easy and beautiful way. Every article you look up is stored on your iPad for offline reading - no internet connection is needed. You can search and find quickly as well as seeing preview images in most search results for easier and faster identifying of your findings. No need to reload articles from Wikipedia as all previously visited pages are stored for you.

Wikihood - FREE
What are the most important sights to see around me? What do others find interesting here? Is there a museum, a castle, a parc or church nearby? What persons are related to this place? Did a historic battle happen at this place? Wikihood knows the answers to questions like these. Within a few clicks you not only get access to all the locations around you, but also the vast information related to these locations.

Wikitude - FREE
Wikitude World Browser is a fun, innovative and informative augmented reality (AR) platform allowing you to discover what’s around you in a completely new way. By using the camera, simply hold up your smartphone and explore your surroundings. Wikitude will overlay the camera’s display and the objects you look at with additional interactive content and information - really cool!

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