The “SocioWiki” was the first wiki project (I will be posting more) I directed with Macaulay Honors College students at Brooklyn College for their Seminar 2 “The Peopling of New York City.” When we began this project, none of us – not the students, nor I, nor most of my colleagues – knew anything about MediaWiki, so the learning curve was substantial. The main reason that we decided to create our website on a wiki platform was because of the collaborative nature of MediaWiki, as well as the ability to roll back pages and keep track of changes. For the professor, being able to see exactly who did the work based on each page’s “history,” helped him evaluate individual student’s participation.
The students worked in groups, focusing the people who live in selected neighborhoods of New York City (Hells Kitchen, Chelsea, Greenwich Village, SoHo, and Park Slope). They provided an analysis from a historical, immigration and sociological perspective, employing customized maps (using Google Maps), YouTube videos and interviews, walking tours, galleries of photos, and even a flash-based map on the home page (pictured above) that linked to the home pages of each neighborhood. The wiki worked well as a place where the projects could be built from scratch, and website visitors can look at the “history” of any page to see an archive of how the students imagined and developed their ideas.
My job as administrator involved installing the “extensions” that enabled mapping, YouTube video embedding, audio embedding, and footnoting, as well as installing and customizing the “skin” of the site. I created and conducted workshops that aided students with MediaWiki markup, page creation, and organization, and I took what I learned back to my colleagues so they could employ them with their own students.