Saturday, July 01, 2006

Wikispaces vs. PBwiki

Technology as a teaching tool is only effective when it adds value to the learning experience. I've written about this concept before when discussing the process of creating podcasts. I stated that I just didn't think that they added much value to my classroom because they took so much work to produce. After the work was finished, I didn't think my students had learned much more than if they had simply done a PowerPoint.

Recently, I've been checking out wikis because I feel like I'd like to go in that direction next year. So far I've looked at PBwiki and Wikispaces. PBwiki seems to be the more popular one--I've read about it in numerous blogs and Will talks about it in his book. But to me, Wikispaces is the better choice because it has more potential to add value to the learning experience. Why is this? The text editor.

PBWiki and Wikistyle

In order to use PBwiki one must learn to use Wikistyle, or the code used to format text or add tables; basically, to create the page that one sees when they visit it. I admit that Wikistyle is not difficult to learn, at least for an adult. However, if I want my fifth grade class to begin using a wiki, I don't have the time to waste teaching them how to format text, add tables, bullet text, or more.

The Text Editor

Our students are already familiar with the text editors that they have seen in word processing programs like Word or AppleWorks. With Wikispaces, this is what they will see when they click the edit button. In a matter of minutes, students can begin creating webpages. No silly code to learn.

A small group of teachers at my school have teamed to plan a parent program on Internet safety. In our first and only meeting, we decided we would like to collaborate over the summer through a wiki. The Internet Safety for Parents wiki is slowly being built into a very informative site on the dangers that children face on the Internet. Drop by and feel free to add to any useful information.

Digital Cameras in the Classroom | Blogs in the Classroom | Alphabet Geometry

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5 comments:

dew said...

Thanks for your candid feedback on our service (PBwiki). We're looking at ways to make editing much easier soon, so do keep your eyes open! :)

adam said...

Thanks James. Glad things look good for you so far. Do let us know how we can do an even better job for you in the future.

In case you weren't aware, we do offer free Plus accounts for K-12 education. More info on that here:

http://blog.wikispaces.com/2006/01/free-wikispaces-for-teachers.html

Cheers,
Adam

Respect2Glory @ gmail.com said...

PBwiki.com loves the neverending challenge of incorporating thousands of user suggestions!
Spring 2007, PBwiki added formatting options to their NEW Point and Click Editor and an autosave feature that automatically saves a draft of your edited wiki every 3 minutes. The SOURCE button allows users to edit the underlying HTML. Insert code snippets and HTML, CSS, Javascript, etc. Plugins are probably the most production powerful additions for your wiki, include Google Gadgets  and YouTube videos, calendars, slideshows, page counters, and more.
YackPack is the newest plug-in edition, a VoiceChat button that visitors can press to voice on your wiki without downloading or installing anything (other than Adobe Flash, which nearly everyone on the net has already installed). The only other requirements are a microphone, and a headset or speakers. When you embed YackPack side-by-side with a chatbox such as Gabbly, you have got a full fledged chatroom on your wiki!
Watch PBwiki Movie "How to install YackPack"

Rob A said...

Hi -

PBWiki now has a WYSIWYG editor called "Point and click" that might make you want to re-evaluate the two.

-Rob A>

Mrs. Ewing said...

Another point in favor of Wikispaces: I had trouble with my edit page recently. I contacted them, and they got back to me within the hour! They also followed up with me the next day.