Wiki Embed: Telling the True Crime Story

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True Crime WIki

In my last post I talked about how excited I am that students are building a resource using the true crime wiki as part of the course Paul Bond and I are teaching this semester. I wanted to use this separate, follow-up post to talk briefly about how we’re using the Wiki Embed plugin to seamlessly integrate that MediaWiki back into the course site.

The wiki was kind of an afterthought for the class, originally we were planning on having the students post the final results of their research directly to Wikipedia as a way to enrich the commons. This is something I’m a big fan of, and last year the Hardboiled course Paul and I taught did just that. In fact, I’m pretty proud of a few of the articles students in that course created, particularly the one for Chester Himes’s 1965 novel Cotton Comes to Harlem.

But this year we had something different in mind, we shifted from them researching for the articles on Wikipedia (which was a crunch towards the end of the semester) to having them lead the discussions and provide their research on a weekly basis. We originally were going to leave it up to them how they would build, share, and publish those resources, but after week two it made far more sense to a have a common space for this, and I spun up a mediawiki site which has proved awesome. I’ve felt a bit edtech retro this semester given I’ve been going back to my WordPress/MediaWiki mashed up roots (a.k.a. the bliki), and I guess this post is kinda also about that somehow (in fact the videos I made with Howard Rheingold were all about that).

Anyway, part of the genius of having both the WordPress site for aggregating student blog posts, sharing a syllabus etc. along with the MediaWiki site for collaborative editing is I can seamlessly integrate the two with the Wiki Embed plugin developed by Enej at UBC. This plugin basically allows me to add a URL of any page on that wiki and pull it  into a WordPress page. What’s even cooler is it now has option where you can actually make every link on that Wiki page you pulled in show up on that blog page as an embed with a common theme, etc. That’s amazing!

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By selecting the “Internal Wiki Links” in the Settings for the plugin and choosing the option for “WordPress Page,” you can basically have your entire wiki show up embedded as part of your WordPress site. I ‘ve been using this on Dynamic Course Calendar page of the True Crime site. It’s a WordPress page that is pulling in the main page of the True Crime wiki. If you go to the Dynamic Course Calendar and click on those links you’ll realize they’re dynamically created wiki pages that remain embedded within a WordPress page frame. Here’s an example, how sick is that!

Over the next seven weeks the truecrimers will be creating at least ten more articles on the wiki as well as cleaning up the articles they’ve already created. In order to make the  True Crime site a hub of the learning that happening we have two main elements: 1) individual blogs and comments representing the reflection and discourse, and 2) the wiki acts as a collaboratively created document of what we read, discover, and discuss. I love it because it’s truly a two-pronged approach to relfection and ongoing course creation.

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