Blogs and wikis in the classroom

Blogs and wikis in the classroom
Elaine Plybon, Dallas Educational Technology Examiner

Over the last few years, more and more educators have begun using blogs and wikis in the classroom. This article will discuss what blogs and wikis are, some of their uses in the classroom, and provide resources for teachers who are hoping to begin using blogs and/or wikis this year.

Blogs, short for “web logs” have become popular through all social circles. Blogs give an author or authors an opportunity to share information with large groups of people via the web in a very easy-to-use format. Readers of articles are able to post comments to them, which makes each blog a dynamic work-in-progress. Often used as a distribution point for information, news, and updates, many companies, newspapers, and individuals have experienced benefits from starting a blog.

In the classroom, blogs can be used as a place for students to talk about what they have learned, discuss perspectives on a news item, or provide information to individuals who have an interest in the class. There are multiple sources for free blogs. Visit the “For more information” section of this article to find a few.

Wikis are another dynamic tool for use in the classroom. Wiki means “quickly” in Hawaiian. Whether that is how they were named or if it is an acronym for “What I Know Is”, using wikis is a way to create webpages without having any knowledge of the software programming languages required to write web pages. Wikis can be edited by several people, making them a useful tool for collaborative projects. Wikis also give students an opportunity to reveal what they have learned, begin conversations about topics they are researching, and display projects or other products from the classroom. Wikis are very easy to edit. Usually it only takes clicking an “Edit” button and a user will be given the opportunity to add their own content in a what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) format. One example of a very popular wiki is Wikipedia.

True for both blogs and wikis:
Adding graphics and files for download are fairly easy. Teachers can use either format as a source of information for parents, including homework assignments, classroom calendars, and contact information. It is also very important when using blogs or wikis that students be reminded about following copyright laws at all times. The temptation to use images and other information they find on the internet can be difficult to overcome in a copy-and-paste society.

There are some classrooms that use both blogs and wikis. However, in my opinion a teacher should determine which one is right for his/her own classroom use. In my science classroom, for example, we will use a wiki this year to showcase what we’ve learned, create a word wall, and work on group projects. Other classrooms might lend themselves more towards a blog – as a place for students to comment on each other’s ideas and information.

It is important, as with any technology in the classroom, to make sure that what is used is relevant and the right tool for each classroom. Deciding to teach students how to use every technology tool just because it is a cool tool and has a use in some classrooms is not good practice. A teacher must thoughtfully consider what each classroom needs and give students the information they need to be able to use the tool efficiently and effectively.

Read the full article at the link below…