I was just reading someone's blog on wanting to know misconceptions on wikis and blogs. I have had many people confused about the two tools. A lady named Sylvia
really summed it up well. "A wiki is a means to collaboratively get to an end product, something a teacher can look at, assess, and grade. It's easier to adapt your current curriculum to use a wiki, since curriculum is also product focused. (Of course, a wiki offers all sorts of cool features that others have mentioned).
Blogs reflect the process of learning, of going through a learning experience that may not result in a final product. Where's the report, the culminating piece of evidence of mastery, the final draft? How do you grade a student who might be changing over time? How do you not be involved in the conversation? It almost seems like cheating, after all, you don't sit down with a student while they are taking a test and discuss their answers halfway through and then they can try again."
This is why I want both for my students. I want them to have the wiki in order to work on a product. To work collaboratively, to tweek and refine. But then I want them to have the blog for the purpose of reflecting. To post their ideas, feelings, and understanding of topics. They can then further conversations about their learning with one another. I am so interested to see if the kids will dive deeper into educational discussions just because they are getting to use a cool new web tool. I have seen a fourth grade class use a wiki in a weird way. The teachers uses the main page to post a homework assignment, like write 5 sentences using certain words. (The old spelling/vocabulary homework that 99.5% of early elementary educators assign at least 1 night a week.) The 4th graders use the discussion panel to post thier sentences. But because they can comment or reply on one another's discussion response they are talking about spelling errors and grammatical errors that the author did. How many 9 year olds will actually look at a friend's homework and suggest an improvement. They are doing this just so that they can hit the reply button and see their response posted. It is a new motivator. They are learning and actively participating because the "how" is FUN!