DML Blog

Wikis in the classroom

posted on 14 Feb 2012 20:54 by Sara Spink

I think it fortunate that in my time here as a student at the BGC, 13 of my 14 courses did use or are using class-specific wiki sites to varying degrees. At the most basic level, the platform provides a flexible and accessible resource for students to receive up-to-date information about the syllabus and class activities, and allows for a common access point for me and my colleagues to sign up for presentations or upload assigned readings that are then easily disseminated to everyone. But the wikis work best when they’re exploited to their full potential as a fluid entity that can be fully integrated into classroom activities and discussions.

With several of my classes it’s been really gratifying to be able to look back on the multilayered site we’ve built together over the course of the semester. Sometimes the site reflects the process of our independent research, enabling an ongoing dialogue over several months as we pursue our respective projects and pose questions about our direction or materials. This was certainly the case in the second iteration of Christmas Cards in America class (which developed into a focus gallery exhibition this past winter), as well as in The Social Lives of Things: The Anthropology of Art and Material Culture (which in part built on the previous semester’s Objects of Exchange course and focus gallery exhibition, and which culminated in an expansion of that research—this is reflected in the online version of the exhibition website; see also Kimon’s previous post).

It’s been most exciting for me when the wikis have enabled productive discussion that both drew from previous classes and contributed to those forthcoming, promoting the development of questions and ideas beyond specified class time. The use of forums and comments, and the implementation of continuously augmented pages of related imagery and media, all contributed to such an experience. Last semester, our Scenic Design course extended our interaction even further. That wiki boasts not only the enormously beneficial visual syllabus that Kimon has mentioned in previous posts, but also “digital portfolios” of each student’s work. We were challenged to integrate various types of media with our textual research, and to post and present that material online—I particularly enjoyed this encouragement to share and reflect on each other’s projects. Regardless of how they are used, the course wikis have a tremendous potential to stand as a rich testament to the interests and achievements of both students and faculty.

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Tags: focusgallery glass materialresearch objectsofexchange spink students visualresearch wikis

Objects of Exchange Expanded Launch #focusgallery

posted on 08 Dec 2011 19:15 by BGC DML

One of the first projects that really energized and challenged the Digital Media Lab was Aaron Glass's focus gallery Objects of Exchange: Social and Material Transformation on the Late Nineteenth-Century Northwest Coast. With a background in film and an eagerness to experiment and explore in digital media, Aaron's project took advantage of a lot of technologies never used before at the BGC. In particular, his use of a wiki as a collaborative platform for the accumulation and organization of information on the objects for the exhibition was for a long time the example that we used to show students, faculty, and guests the potential that wikis had for working with visual and material culture.

The exhibition also had an interactive touch screen that showed a network of connectivity between keywords relevant to the exhibition and the objects on display. Touching the keywords or objects resituated the materials to show the dense complexity of the connections. One fascinating aspect of the evolution of this interactive cloud had been that it almost completely came out of students' use of the tagging feature of the wikis and the preexisting tag cloud module that represented an alternate taxonomy to understanding the connectedness of the materials in the exhibition. Aaron and I had a chance to write about the role of digital media in the exhibition process in the catalog, and that work helped set a foundation for much of the work that has been done in the DML in the following years.

Even though the exhibition has long since closed, Aaron continues to work on this collection objects and the material culture of the Northwest Coast. Recently the BGC has launched an expanded version of the exhibition's web site with more objects, additional research material by students, and audio visual material. It is a great expansion on what has proved to be a valuable endeavor for the BGC and is worth a look at.

- Kimon

Here is the official release:

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Fall 2011

posted on 22 Aug 2011 17:12 by BGC DML


Today was the first day of orientation and the beginning of the DML's third year. This is always a great time of year as the buzz of students returns to the building, faculty return from the summer trips, and the semester starts rolling. There will be a lot going on in the DML this semester as more classes are using wikis and other digital tools, such as Prezi, Zotero, Omeka, and Filemaker Pro. Furthermore, as we continue with some ongoing focus gallery projects and start a few new ones, it will be interesting to see how media continue to play a role in the gallery work students are doing. Some things to keep an eye on during the coming months:

There will be a lot of Workshops this semester so pay attention for announcements from the Library, VMR, and DML.

There are some new computers in the DML (two 17" laptops and a 27" iMac) along with some other hardware (a 3D scanner, and a high-res flatbed scanner). The 3D scanner in particular promises to open up some real interesting opportunities for material based digital work.


Our Wiki How-To provides a lot of information on how to use the wikis, but also keep an eye on the Prezi How-To and Omeka How-To for detailed instructions on how to use those tools.

There are a number of developing digital projects running through the DML, including interesting one lead by Profs. Jaffee and Glass. Let me know if you are interested in getting involved in more elaborate projects.


For a good example of one of the digital projects that have come through the DML, be sure to visit the Visualizing Nineteenth Century New York digital exhibition by BGC students. The product of two semesters of research and web design turned out really well by the end of the spring and is a great example of the kind of work that can be done in the DML.

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Tags: filemaker glass jaffee omeka prezi visualizing19thcnyc wikis workshops

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