Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Journals, Blogs, Discussion Boards, and Wikis. What's the difference?

You're three days into classes, and for many of you that might mean that you are starting to be responsible for your first Journal, Blog, Discussion Board, or Wiki entries.  Depending on the course, you might have to do some sort of vicious combination of all four!

But do you, as a student user, know the difference?  Do you know what differentiates one tool from another? 

Ehm, Blackboard class is now in session, let's review:

  • Journals:  The Journal tool is primarily designed so that students can communicate directly with the instructor in a well organized and consistent format.  The principle idea, is that your words are not subject to the view of your peers, and thus you can express your thoughts, ideas, deeply held beliefs, and experiences without the worry of social retribution.  Keep in mind though, that Journals can be opened up for public view (so the rest of the class can see).

  • Blogs: Blogging has become a part of day-to-day "tech culture" that is common in 2014; however, some do not use, or read, blogs particularly frequently.  Blogs are a space for you to write in such a way that the public may view your information.  With a quick google search you can find blogs on just about any topic (no, just because you read it on the internet does not make it true). Inside of your Blackboard your professor can assign blogs, which are areas for you to write information that your peers can read and comment on.  This is designed so that your positions and opinions on a given topic can be expanded, flushed out, and then your peers can comment about their opinions on your work. 

  • Discussion Boards:  If I was a professor and I was introducing a pretty hot topic in a lecture to my students, you can bet I would follow that topic with a discussion board.  Discussion boards can be phenomenally interesting because you are getting the back and forth comments and dialogue between students about a specified topic. Keep in mind, netique is important with Discussion Boards, as these quick correspondences can occasionally spiral out of control.

  • Wikis: Though wikis tend to be used less than the three tools listed above, that does not mean that the Wikis tool is lacking in usefulness and functionality!  A wiki is a collaborate writing that users and groups come together to compile information to create one work that is both expansive and detailed.  Imagine how much information an entire class who is focused on one particular goal or writing can accomplish! That's the power of the wiki. 

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