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What is the difference between blogs, wikis, and discussion forums?

Screenshot of phpbb in use on a games forum.
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I was recently asked what the difference was between discussion forums, blogs and wikis. The following is a brief answer to that question. It is really worth looking at the examples of the wikis and blogs in education, and also watching the video about discussion forums as they might give you some ideas of how a learning experience could be extended or enhanced. Please also feel free to share your ideas in the comment box at the end of this post.

  • Blogs - this is a good video to watch about blogs - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NN2I1pWXjXI. A blog is an online diary or reflective journal where a person can post and publish their thoughts about what they have experienced or learned, and/or text and pictures describing their life, interests and work experiences. The posts tend to be relatively short, but have enough information and interest to engage other readers. Other readers (classmates and teachers) can usually leave comments about the post. You can see some examples of blogs being used in education by following the links on this page: http://my-ecoach.com/online/webresourcelist.php?rlid=4992#2.
  • Wikis - This is a great video to watch about wikis - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dnL00TdmLY. A wiki is a web page that can be edited by many people - in other words wikis can be co-created web pages. You could, for example, set up a wiki in Moodle and ask a group of your students to create a Web page about Japanese food and traditions around food (including images, text, videos, and sound). Other students will be able to see the information and edit it if they feel it is wrong or needs clarification. A wiki is open and collaborative. (A good example of a wiki is Wikipedia). You can see some examples of wikis being used in education by following the links on this page: http://educationalwikis.wikispaces.com/Examples+of+educational+wikis.

  • Discussion forums - This video features a teacher talking about how she uses discussion forums with her students - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7wFrITZ0FA. A discussion forum is a place where, for instance, you can ask your students a question. The students can make separate posts in answer to your question - they cannot edit or add to each other's words, but they can 'reply' to the answers. The other thing you can do is set up a forum, and in it give students a task (like watch a Japanese video) and come up with a summary of the video in text, and also ask one or two questions themselves. Students then go and answer each other's questions.








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