Okay, I need advice. Up until this summer, I've been perfectly happy in my own little world, with my own little web page. And now I have "seen the light" and want to create a space for my students to add their "stuff." What are the pros and cons of blogs and wikis? Which would you suggest, setting up a classroom blog that kids can add to and edit, or a classroom wiki?

Tags: blog, suggestions, wiki

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Great replies from everyone here. I just thought I'd share my examples:

Here is my blog/website.
Here is a Wiki that my 4th graders did, and you can find a link to it from the blog.

I chose a blog as my base site because you can manipulate it in so many ways (categories, pages, etc.). When we do a certain project, then I will set up a wiki for that project and add the link under "Student Work" on my blog. Another reason I like the blog- it will be easy year after year to go back in history (archives) to see what was done. You can view the history on a Wiki, too, but I prefer the archiving in blogs.

Hope my rambling helps!
Hi there.

I teach Grade 4 and last year I used both with my class though due to my inexperience they were not always terribly effective. The students and I were all on a really steep learning curve but I am more prepared for this coming year and looking forward to using both right from the beginning.

The biggest problem I had was the kids being willing to write and have other kids see their work. I am going to really work on my approach for that this year.

Good luck.


PS We also used a Ning which my kids really liked because they had more control but I actually had less.
I thought students had to be 13 to use ning.
Thanks,everyone, for sharing thoughts.
I'm leaning towards blog. MIGHT try both, as some have suggested, but that seems like double-duty. I see your point though.
Now I'm wondering, how easy is it to manage student blogs and do they each have to supply an email address for me to set up an account for them under our classroom blog??
I use WordPress, so I can add users, set passwords and use fictitious emails, then I give the kids their log in info. Other software may be different. Some make it difficult or impossible to do without a legit email address.

Do you intend to moderate posts and comments? This adds to the work.

I have it set up so that everything is moderated. I get an email notification complete with links whenever something goes into cue for moderation--post or comment.

Alternatively, you may be able to limit access to the blog so that only members may view it. You may not need to moderate in that case.
With BlogMeister you only need your own teacher email address to set up each student "page" within the "parent" blog. With edublogs you need individual email addresses for each student (this may have changed recently??), but there is a workaround as Kim Cofino describes here.

I have four classroom computers so managing access is an issue. I have to rotate groups each day of the week. We also visit the lab as a whole class when I introduce something new. Students are also allowed to sign out to use other computers in other classrooms, the library, the lab, etc. I don't moderate posts or comments until after school or at home. That averages about a half an hour a day.
Agree, I thought you had dropped off the face on the internet---hadn't seen your name in a while. N.
I used a wiki in my class last year and loved it as did the kids. It ended up having 168 pages created in the wiki over the semester of which I only created about 15 and the kids did the rest. I teach High School kids and the Wiki was very easy for them to work with. It really shifted my classroom from me being the creator of the material to the kids developing resources for the rest of the class. I used pbwiki and did buy the lower level plan (about a $100 for the year) so I could have a few different levels of control.
The question I am asking right now is if a Ning for the class is a better way to go and I would love some feed back on that question.
I agree with those who have suggested that blogs and wikis are good for different purposes, and I think it's good practice to think about which communication media best fit one's purposes in general. What sorts of communication are better served by a phone call? By an e-mail? By a face-to-face conversation? I think that once you understand the functionality of each medium, then the first question to ask is, what do I want students to do? If you want them to journal regularly (on topics of their choice or yours) and open their writing to peers for comment, then individual blogs would work well. If you want them to collaborate on a joint writing project, such as a local history, environmental investigation, book review database, or multi-author story, then a wiki would work well. If you want them to engage in deep dialogue about a book, a current event, an ethical dilemma, or any other generative topic, then discussion forums are the medium of choice. If you want an environment in which students can have their own blogs and also contribute to discussion forums on an ongoing basis, then a Ning network might be a good bet. Of course there are many more good uses for each medium, and we are discovering new ones all the time as we explore what they can offer, but they are not quite interchangeable.

You may want to start with your own blog, in which you invite students to respond to your posts through comments. Then, after you get that working smoothly, you can add other options like individual student blogs or a class wiki to suit your teaching purposes. You might like 21Classes, which allows you to have a class "portal" with individual student blogs that are all linked.

Enjoy! I hope you'll let us know how it goes...
Just my own opinion so don't throw stones but....I think once a group of kids have done one wiki, that's enough. They all look the same. My students have done five different wikis for five different reasons over the last few years and that's enough. You can see them here
I teach seventh grade English and I set up a classroom blog last year on Wordpress which was extremely successful. My purpose was to continue discussions beyond the classroom walls regarding literature, IR, poetry, etc. The students were required to post a weekly thoughtful and quality response (which we discussed) which contributed towards a trimester writing grade. I do have a rubric for grading their comments. Also, I set the permissions where all comments came to my email first for approval before posting. I have had not one problem last year. Every Sunday I would post a new prompt and the students had till Wednesday evening to get a response in. Of course, they were encouraged to post as often as they liked, but at least one comment was required. This mid week deadline allowed for discussions during the week before the new post. I found my kids to write more honestly and genuinely. Their writing improved greatly from the beginning of the year to the end, and I saw a huge jump in their WRAP scores. (standardized writing test) The statistics are spot on when they say literacy and blogging go hand in hand. This year I am switching to Blogger, as I want to embed video and Voicethread easily. I also used a class wiki when doing vocab, and while the kids enjoyed it, I found it to be problematic to access, as the kids couldn't get on all at once, or even within a short amount of time between posts, as their writings would negate the additions of those before them. I finally realized how to fix that, limit the number of kids on the wiki each night, but that became a pain. Needless to say, for my purposes the wiki didn't work for what I wanted. I heavily use blogging and Voicethread in my curriculum. I'd be happy to post a link to last year's blog if anyone is interested in ideas.
Thanks, Amy, for this helpful account of how you've been using these tools and how they have contributed to advancing your students' writing skills. I'd love to see the class blog. I'd also be interested in your thoughts in the Teaching Writing with Web 2.0 Media discussion forum if you're inclined to share them. In particular, I'd like to hear more about the sorts of improvements you saw in students' writing. Your point about their writing more honestly and genuinely makes good sense, since they are writing more authentically (i.e., with the purpose of sincerely communicating their thoughts and ideas to real audiences beyond the teacher) in their blogs. I'm intrigued to hear that their standardized test scores improved...Can you elaborate on the specific nature of those improvements? For example, did their essays improve in organization, topic development, audience awareness?



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