Wednesday, January 7, 2009

An Apple, An Orange Or A Hippo For Group Documents!

In the past few weeks, faculty members at the Ohio State University have approached me with help in incorporating a blog, a wiki, or a web-group in the curriculum. Great idea! I am glad (and very encouraged) that faculty is trying to incorporate facets of Web 2.0 in their classrooms. Students these days are well versed with 2.0 technologies (blogs, wikis, social networks, etc) and using these as classroom tools can certainly get their attention.

However, there seems to be some confusion about what these technologies are and what they do! Though most Web 2.0 technologies do not have rigid definitions/standards, each has a general purpose and should be used appropriately.

A blog (or weblog) is a term used to describe an online page (or web site) that maintains an ongoing chronicle of information. A blog also allows document collaboration via multiple authors but that’s not what really a blog is, especially when there are better tools out there. That is more a wiki. According to a “Wiki is a piece of server software that allows users to freely create and edit Web page content using any Web browser.” Wikipedia defines it as “a page or collection of Web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content.” This fits the need of a class collaborative document. A web group (e.g. google group, yahoo group) can also be used to collaborate on a document and exchange ideas to develop a group document. Most wiki and web-group technology is free and easy to use.

It is important to know what all these ‘new’ technologies do (& can do) before using them in curriculum (or elsewhere). Misuse can be a major turn-off and can actually deter the students. Know your blogs, wikis, 2.0s, ducks, apples and oranges!

Technologies: Weblog (blog), wiki, google group, yahoo group, Web 2.0

Contact me:
Sujan Manandhar
Instructional Aids Associate,
Foreign Language Center
Ohio State University


  1. Hard to believe that people still have trouble distinguishing between these, but they are similar. You also have to be careful of 'over-use'. Sometimes faculty use tech just to use them, with little output.

  2. You tell them, Sujan! Hope you are staying warm down there.