I've been using PBworks quite extensively for 2+ years, so you can probably attribute some of my comments to familiarity. However, I recently explored the possibility of switching to Wikispaces -- mainly because it is so widely used in the education community (and by people I don't know but really respect!). However, I'm sticking with PBworks for a few reasons:
(To those who use Wikispaces, please correct any errors!)
1. As far as I can tell, there is not an "undo" button.
2. The process for uploading videos is cumbersome because you have to choose between sites (YouTube, TeacherTube) and when I tried to upload code from other video sites through the HTML option, it would not work multiple times.
3. I love that PBworks has a box to check for opening a link in a new window; as far as I can tell, you have to go into the HTML to do that in Wikispaces. To me, it is utterly important that links to outside info open in new windows.
4. I'm sure this is a personal hang-up, but I don't like Wikispaces' narrow sidebar. Longer page names get pushed to two lines, and you can't indent the second line, so it looks like every line is a new link. You can space them out, but then that kind of defeats the point of having an easy-to-navigate sidebar.
5. I explored the permissions options and determined I like PBworks better, but I can't remember why.
6. Some of the formatting in Wikispaces is funky. PBworks used to have funky formatting issues, too, but it has improved a lot.
7. As far as I can tell, Wikispaces doesn't have an easy way to print a "printable version" and to me this is vital so that a teacher can put a worksheet/exercise in the wiki which can be printed as necessary.
Now, I can't speak to the customer service at Wikispaces (it sounds good based on comments from others), but I'd rate PBworks customer service as phenomenal -- I've contacted them quite a bit, and I've always gotten prompt, courteous answers. Even when I've asked fairly naive questions like, "Is there any way to get rid of the Navigator box?" the kind answer was to simply drag it down out of the way (which solves the problem of not having the Sidebar at the top). Also, their Help Manual is extremely thorough compared to Wikispaces.
One concern I had is that PBworks might be getting "too" business-oriented ... will they drop their education focus/free education wikis? But I really don't think they will. Plus, I like that teachers (and students) are exposed to the fact that major businesses (not just education) are using wikis (i.e., being able to use this technology is a real-world skill.)
I've found that the easiest way to access to the free education wikis is to go to Solutions/Education and then you'll get the option to check "Education" under use. I'm sure there are other ways, but I've taken a couple routes where it didn't seem to be offering the free Education wikis which are ad-free. I think some people were scared off by PBworks recent announcement of a $99/year Classroom wiki (which is limited to 100 users), but there are plenty of ways to build wikis so that you can use the free ones and not run into a users limit (i.e., one for each class which are housed in one main wiki instead of one for multiple classes of 9th grade English, etc.)
Sorry for the long answer, but I just spent time looking into this, so figured I'd share :)
Karen, thanks for sharing your information on Wikispaces vs. PBworks. I'm familiar with Wikispaces. Now I feel the need to explore PBworks. You brought up a good point in the discussion of education wikis vs. business wikis. I agree - our students seeing this is reinforcement of a real life skill.
James from Wikispaces here. I'll answer your questions in detail in a moment, but first a few thoughts about choosing a wiki for your classroom. We're big believers at Wikispaces in using the solution that's most comfortable for you and your students, especially when you're just getting started. We spend a lot of effort making Wikispaces very easy to jump into with limited time and setup, and our focus on educational use nearly defines our company. If you're already happily using PB Works, there might not be a compelling reason to switch -- you've already done the hard work of getting up and running.
One note on limits on Wikispaces' free plan for K-12 educators: there really aren't any. While we do have a soft storage limit to prevent abuse, you're free to have 10 or 10,000 members in your wiki. The same applies for pages, files, tags, etc. And the plan is free forever -- we'll be giving away K-12 wiki number 200,000 in a matter of days. Lots more information at http://www.wikispaces.com/site/for/teachers
I'll address your questions one by one:
1. Undo - You're right, there is no undo button at the moment, though on most browsers ctrl-z (or undo on your platform) will do the same thing. Adding this feature is on our list for our editor.
2. Videos - We're looking at direct video and audio uploads without having to use a third-party service. And if you find a site that doesn't embed well, by all means let us know.
3. New Window - This is feedback we've heard from lots of our members. It's something we plan to add soon, keep an eye out at http://blog.wikispaces.com
4. Sidebar Width - Try changing themes, as you'll find some have wider sidebars than others. We're also happy to advise on a teeny HTML change in your favorite theme that will widen the sidebar -- you have full control of how your wiki looks.
5. Permissions - We try to keep permissions simple and straightforward. Locking and hiding pages are both possible for situations where default permissions don't fit.
6. Formatting - We're always working to make our editor as stable and WYSIWG as possible. Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you find an example where formatting goes wrong, we'd love to hear about it.
7. Print View - On the Page dropdown menu, there's a Print option. Let me know if this isn't what you were looking for.
Hope this helps, drop us an email if we can answer any other questions!
Thanks for clearing up a couple of things. As I said, familiarity has a lot to do with my opinion ... when the printable version wasn't where I "thought" it "should" be, I didn't look hard enough or look it up. I've always been impressed with Wikispaces educational focus, and I always recommend it as an option whenever I introduce wikis because I do think it is likely easier for a lot of people. And good to know about upcoming improvements.
I forgot to mention the main reason I'd still strongly consider switching (and one of the main features I point out to people about Wikispaces) is the "Discussion" tab -- this is really great feature which could be really useful in a way that PBworks' comments and chat features can't match.
Hi - just want to chime in on the customer support at Wikispaces - I have been extremely disappointed by it. I had a question about setting up my wiki space so that members could log in using their email addresses rather than the username you assign them at set up. I know it is possible to do this - because I can log in with my email address - but could not figure out how to do for new members.
I called Wikispaces at least 4 times - and each time the person on the phone could not help me, but promised "someone would be in touch" within a short time - they would not even commit to a time frame. A month has passed and I never heard from anyone. Gave up and went with PB Wiki instead.
I have to defend Wikispces on their support - every time I have sent them a message and that is several times now ( I have not tried phoning) I have received a very prompt, helpful and courteous reply.
I like Wikispaces because I can have add free, private protected wikis, easy for students to learn. No age issues - teachers can use the user-creator to create student accounts - a very simple process.
Hi Patricia. James from Wikispaces here. From what you describe I'm honestly wondering if you reached our company or someone else by accident. We do sometimes ask that callers email us additional details at email@example.com, but we pride ourselves on answering those emails quickly and personally. If we can ever help in the future please let us know.
Hi James - I used the contact information on the WikiSpaces site and really - I checked back in several times after not getting a response. I tried both email and phone support and while I got a courtesy email several times stating that my inquiry had been received, never heard back with a resolution.
Maybe you could ask someone in support to email or post here with an answer to my issue? What I'm trying to do is set up my users so that instead of logging in with the username assigned when I set them up, that they can log on with their email address. I just find using their email makes it very simple to remember their log in and I get a lot more participation.
I'm also more familiar with Wikispaces but have seen a lot of educators using PBWorks. I've definitely had some issues with Wikispaces in terms of formatting - for example, I have to make text a heading to make it bigger. I'm thinking I might have to try out PBWorks now. It sounds really solid. Thanks for your input everyone, especially Karen!