Saturday, October 20, 2007

Wiki vs. 21 classes- and the winner is...?

I am on team wiki.
There are pros and cons to both wikispaces and 21 classes. However, wiki has very few cons when it comes to using it with 6th graders.
Customer Service and Help
Wiki wins hands down. Their help pages are easy to use and they respond almost instantly to emails. On 21 classes, they have so few help topics and I actually had to use the telephone to contact them and got a message back after 3 days. Plus, 21 classes only offers 50 free accounts and a public wiki is pretty much a free for all.
Navigation and Visual Appeal
It is very easy to change the look and feel of a wiki and I really like the "tab appeal" of wiki. I can easily see how many postings there are on a page. Plus, everything you put on the home page is visible. On 21 classes, after you post 5 topics, you cannot see the 5 before and they are very hard to find.
Setting up student accounts
Unless your school assigns student email accounts, setting up accounts of any kind can be a pain. However, 21classes wins because you do not need email addresses to set up accounts for your students. In wiki, you do unless you ask the wizards at wiki to set accounts up for you , but this takes time and advance planning.
Depending on how you set up your wiki, anyone who is a member can edit whatever they want, that is pretty much a wiki given and part of the game. However, on 21 classes, each student gets their own weblog that they can personalize with backgrounds, icons, videos and music. This allows them a great sense of ownership. However, as a teacher you need to check up on the weblogs to make sure nothing inappropriate is posted. Unlike comments which you can accept or deny, personalization of the weblog is not monitored. Wiki also gives each member a mailbox that remains on the top of the screen when they are logged in. It is very easy to check your messages and respond to either the whole group or to just one member. I find it very hard for the students (and myself) to check the messages on the 21 classes blog and it is not easy to respond.
21classes. You can make them both as secure or unsecure as you want. Anything on a wiki can be recovered or deleted. Watch out - when a student creates a wiki account, they have access to your (probably private and or protected) wiki and any public wiki. On 21 classes any comments or posting are deferred to the owner (in my case the teacher) of the blog before they are posted. You can set a deadline such as "At 7 am and 7pm I will release comments if appropriate." Since I have started blogging in my classes there has only been one incident where I had to remove someone. The students are so into blogging that they take the rules very seriously.
21 classes wins. They offer so much mathematical info that sometimes my brain hurts. The charts and graphs they provide are endless. But for me, seeing the tab on wiki that tells how many times a discussion question has been answered is enough.
Fun Factor
Wiki wins. It is just fun to say "wiki." Plus, the competitiveness of making your page the best and being one of the top edited sites on the wikispaces home page makes wiki seem like a game. A game where there is a lot of learning going on.

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Which do you like better? I am in an arguing mood.

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