Wikis and blogs . . . how do they differ?

People ask me, “what is the difference between a wiki and a blog?” There isn’t one easy answer, but here are several:

  1. The main difference between the two is that wikis are essentially dynamic websites, with a navigation structure YOU can determine. Much of the design is up to the wiki administrator/creator. A blog is a template that takes posts and puts them in reverse chronological order. Yes, you can create additional pages on a blog, but the format on the pages remains the same . . . chronological postings that allow comments.
  2. Also, wikis are generally better for multiple users and contributors, whereas blogs are usually meant for a single writer. However . . . you CAN create a group blog, and they sometimes work quite well. A group of students, for instance, can use a blog to post comments on a reading.
  3. Blogs LOOK NICER than wikis, for the most part. Blogs have an inherent structure that looks pretty darn organized and neat, whereas wikis can be a bit of a mess, especially at the beginning. But remember, wikis are unstructured sites to begin with, that develop some sort of structure over time.
  4. Blogs really aren’t discussion boards and shouldn’t be used as a substitute for them. Yes, one can post comments to a posting, but that is all they are . . . comments to a post. Use either a discussion forum for asynchronous discussions or use the comments feature on wiki pages if you want to start conversations.
  5. Wikis generate a history of page revisions, which enable you to revert to a previous page if you don’t like what someone else has done to your page. Blogs don’t do this.
  6. Wikis are a collection of webpages that includes any type of content . . . blogs contain postings that resemble journals or news articles.

Use a wiki for a collaborative workspace and a blog for reading and writing posts on a common theme. While they seem similar at first, they each have their own strengths and purposes. For blog examples, use the Google blog search engine: http://blogsearch.google.com and technorati http://technorati.com

I just found this Google special wiki search engine, too, so try this out and see what you think.

View some examples and get some ideas on how blogs and wikis might be used to enhance your students’ learning and your teaching. I’m here to help. Remember that.

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