Blogs, wikis, discussion boards, and journals... oh, my!
Used for collaboration, critical thinking, building communication skills and building community, these are all tools that can be made available to users in a Pioneerweb (Blackboard) course or organization. But what's the difference between them?
Discussion boards have been around the longest and are very easy to use; they promote in-depth asynchronous discussion of a topic among members of a course or small group within a course. "Threads" start a topic and others reply. A discussion board can also be used for Q&A in a class; students can help answer each other's questions or the instructor can respond. Either way, students can benefit from seeing the answers to all the questions.
Blogs are similar: Entries are posted and others can comment, but entries are ordered chronologically and there is a sense of authorship of the blog posts, upon which others may comment. Each student can have their own blog, or there can be course blogs according to topics. There are many ways to approach a blog in a course: some instructors assign only a few bloggers for the week, or ask that each student make a certain number of posts and comments throughout the semester, or it may be a required assignment almost every week.
Journals are simply private blogs - private between one student and the instructor. Entries are ordered chronologically and the instructor may add comments.
Wikis are collaborative spaces for small groups, or the entire course, or for co-instructors. It's sort of like building a mini website - anyone with permission can add a new page, add content to existing pages, create external links or links between wiki pages, add images, videos, etc. Viewers can leave comments. Wikipedia is an example of a very large, public wiki.
Blackboard has built-in tools for these purposes, and there are also third-party Campus Pack tools integrated into Pioneerweb. Though the main function of the tools is the same, there are some differences in the appearance and features between the Blackboard and Campus Pack tools. For example, content created in a Campus Pack blog or wiki can be exported, and can also be made public to a wider audience, but those features are not available from Blackboard's built-in blog and wiki. Questions about any of these tools can be directed to Stephanie Peterson or Jake Madren.
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