Blogs and Wikis

What's the Difference? | Educational Uses for Wikis | Wiki Tools | Educational Uses for Blogs | Blogging Tools

What's the Difference Between Blogs and Wikis?

By now all of us have heard the term blogs and wikis thrown around. Some of us may even be using them in our courses. But how many don’t know what a blog or wiki is? Or if we do know what it is, aren’t sure what place it holds in the course? This page walks you through the differences, best practices, and some tools to create blogs and wikis. The main feature that can be used to define both a blog and a wiki is that students generate the content and rely on peer collaboration (wiki) or feedback (blog).

Wikis Blogs

Multiple Authors

Created, Revised, Deleted by  All

Content Is Constantly Changing

View Revision History

One Author

Author Posts, Others Comment

Post New Content at Set Times

View Initial Post Date

Educational Uses for Wikis

A wiki can be defined as a web site that lets all participants actively create, revise, and delete the content found there. A wiki is never ‘complete’ and is always a work in progress, while still being viewable to the defined audience. This can be the general public or just a group of students. Think Wikipedia. Read how this faculty member in an MBA program uses “Google Sites as a Collaborative Wiki.”

Examples:

Wiki Tools

Google Sites

Google Logo

Google Sites is a free Google App available for instructors and students through CSS Gmail accounts--no additional registration is required. Using Google Sites has many advantages:

  • Easy to use
  • Flexible permissions settings allows you to enable permissions on specific pages so you can use one site for multiple courses/terms or break students into groups and prevent them from working on the pages of other groups

Useful Resources:

Wikispaces Classroom

Wikispaces Logo

Wikispaces Classroom is a social writing platform for education, where you and your students can communicate and work on writing projects alone or in teams. Rich assessment tools give you the power to measure student contribution and engagement in real time. Wikispaces Classroom also works well on modern browsers, tablets, and phones.

For project based learning, there is a simple structure that allows you to create projects, define teams, assign students and manage them all through successful completion of their projects.

  • Starting from pre-built templates, or a blank slate, students can work in private groups until their work is due.
  • At the end of the project you can share the results with the rest of the class or even parents and other participants.

Educational Uses for Blogs

A blog can be defined as a ‘journal’ that the author publishes the the web or to a particular audience. Blogs are a great tool because they allow students to engage in a more authentic writing experience where they become the content expert and are writing to a targeted audience.

Students must fully research their topic, synthesize that information, pull in their own perspective or twist, and write it so that their ‘audience’ will understand it. This makes it more authentic than a paper. Other students then review the post and comment on it asking follow-up questions, agreeing/disagreeing with key points, adding their own experiences, etc without the need for a response (like one would expect in a discussion forum). Look at this example of an educational technology blog, The Innovative Educator.

Alternatively, rather than having students author their own blog posts, have them find an expert in the field who writes a blog and follow their posts for the term. Students should then have to comment on that blog and provide evidence of their comments by sharing the URL of the post with the instructor/classmates. Blogs typically provide the option to subscribe (receive a daily/weekly email summary) or use an RSS feed to send notifications of recent posts.

Blogging Tools

Blackboard: The blog tool within Blackboard works well for blogging.

If you’d like to make the blog larger scale and more authentic, blogging could be built into the overall program requirements. At that point it would make sense for students to create their own external blog using: