Sunday, February 10, 2013

Wikis, blogs and playlists - DNLE Assignment 1

The tools that I decided to evaluate are wikis, blogs and playlists. I think these are most commonly used tools in education.
There are a few blogging sites: wordpress, blogger, edublogs, posterous, etc. All of these blogging sites offer free accounts as well as paid ones. Blogs are online diaries which can be used by educators and students to write their reflections upon what they have learnt or what they have taught and what could have been done differently. However, the use of blogs is not limited only to that. Posterous and Blogger are probably the easiest ones to set up but if one has trouble with it, there are a lot of video tutorials on Youtube which teachers and students can watch to overcome the problems in setting up the blog. As the tutorials are freely available online, I don't think there is a need for special training. As the content of blogs is user-created, educators should first check it for credibility and accuracy before referring their learners to it.

Positive aspects:

  • easy to set up and use;

  • there is a lot of support available on the Web in the form of video and written tutorials;

  • they can be made public and private, which is a great fetaure in education;

  • they can improve the blogger's writing skills.

Negative aspects which can be overcome and turned into positive ones:

  • pages on blogs are static and all the posts go to the home page;

  • posts and comments are not moderated before they are posted so there is always the risk that someone will post something inappropriate and only the administrator of the blog can delete the post, which means that offensive comments will be visible until the administrator sees them;

  • the teacher will have to decide when to delete a comment as this may be viewed as abuse of freedom of speech by the learners.
As with blogging sites, there are quite a few sites that offer free wiki spaces for educators. These are pbworks, wikispaces, wetpaint, etc. The content in wikis is also created by users but in contrast to blogs, wikis are mainly used for collaborative writing. Wikis are not very difficult to use and there are online video tutorials available. However, it may be a good idea to conduct a short training course on how to create a wiki for educators so that they are comfortable with creating one.
In terms of pricing and school logo inclusion, schools can choose the wikimatrix site to choose the wiki that is most appropriate to their needs.
Positive aspects:

  • great tools for collaborative writing;

  • page history is available so teachers can reverse a page back to previous times;

  • as many pages as needed can be created.
Negative aspects:

  • pages can be deleted by mistake;

  • when doing team writing, an individuals ideas are incorporated into one whole and success is down to the team not the individual, which may demotivate the individual who came up with most ideas;

  • if a not hosted wiki is chosen, then a special training is required for the person who will be responsible for wiki hosting and maintenance.
I cannot find many sites that offer playlist creation services. The only one that I know of is MentorMob which allows users to create playlists of subject-related video and articles and to create quizzes related to the content. The playlists and embeddable and can be embedded into a blog or a wiki that schools or educators run for their learners (a mentormob playlist). The tools is free and the support from the team is great. They respond to email within one day and are very helpful. However, educators have to watch the videos and read the articles they add to the playlist to make sure that content is reliable and accurate.
Positive aspects:

  • easy to create;

  • can be embedded into a blog or wiki;

  • learners can add content to it too.
Negative aspects:

  • quizzes sometimes are not saved the first attempt and created questions are not saved so users have to write them again;

  • playlists are collaborative and any user can add content to it which may not be reliable. However, this can be deleted;

  • if a playlist is long, users may become demotivated and may not want to go through it.
In my opinion, every digital tool has advantages and disadvantages. If handled with thought, the tools can add value to education.
This work was chosen to be among the best for the first week. 


  1. Hello Anna,

    Recently came across with your blog site and have already read most of your blogs. I am an English teacher myself worked both abroad and in Armenia.

    I am really happy to know that there are dedicated and hard working teachers like you in Armenia who are supporting and promoting the idea of implementing technology in classrooms. I am also pro using technological tools in education. As we all know, however , it could be challenging in public schools, because of the lack of equipment or the mentality....

    Currently I am conducting a research where I am trying to see the difference in students' self expression using pen/paper VS blog as writing tools. I would like to hear your opinion since you are an expert in that field, I know you as one of the pioneers, implementing the technology, blogging in this case, in Armenian schools for Armenian students. This would be a great help and a valuable contribution to this research as it is going to be in an Armenian setting and context.

    Keep the good work, wish you many more great achievements!


  2. Hello Nel, thank you for taking interest in my blog posts. Which sector did you teach in? I mean in Armenia. I have been working in the private sector and the system is very different from the one in the public sector.

    In general, writing skills are a problem in Armenia both pen and paper and online. In the private sector, good writing skills is one of the areas we work on, which is not the case in the public sector - this is about L2 not L1.

    If you can provide me with a list of questions you are interested in hearing answers for, I will try to help.

  3. Thank you so much for getting back to me Anna,
    I will get my questions ready soon. I highly appreciate you willingness and readiness to help!

    I taught both in public and private sectors and yes they are different, however even in the private sectors the quality is not guaranteed, it all depends how advanced the institution can be. There are some, that aren't really well equipped both with technological devices and the selection of books. The place I worked at, lacked both, needless to mention that in these circumstances it is hard to provide the best quality...

    I can't agree with you more that writing is the most difficult skill for students to master and it is challenging partially because writing is a more formal language that usually comes with higher expectations from students. Guess that's what is required from students today academic writing. I am not really sure if blogging can foster students writing skills to the extend they can write using a more proficient English. Yes it helps to establish their voice, online identity in a way brings out the shyest students to express their thoughts thus giving some confidence but I am more certain that the only way to reach the academic level of writing is through pen/paper than typing.

    Here is a great article I found "Why You Learn More Effectively by Writing Than Typing"

    cheers Anna,

    Thank you again for your genuine agreement to help.

  4. Thanks for sharing the article with me. That may be true to say that it might be difficult to achieve higher academic results through blogging but that would depend on the work assigned and the reason. I do actually believe that if the task has meaning for learners, they will improve their writing skills. :)

    I think blogging is a meaningful form of writing for students, especially if it is collaborative or is part of an international project. Regardless their level, they will want to get their message across.

    Looking forward to your questions. :)