Tuesday, October 5, 2010

New Blog and Wiki Tools for Kids

In October, fifth graders are doing an experiential, hands-on group project to learn about blogs and wikis. I've used quite a few standard blog and wiki tools, but wanted to see what the Webworld had to offer in the way of new kid-friendly blogs and wikis. I was not disappointed to learn about two new ones: Pikiwiki and Kidblog.

Pikiwiki I discovered through the Technology on a Shoestring blog. According to their site, Pikiwiki "enables the everyday user to effortlessly create and share media rich web pages, using only a web browser, just you and your private group, or with the world." It's drag-and-drop functionality, and GUI (graphical user interface) make it ideal for kid use. The best part is that teachers can create an account, complete with class-specific groups, and add users all in about 10 minutes. I did it while the fifth graders were surfing the net trying to find out what the difference between blogs and wikis might be. Pikiwiki will be one of two options from which the students can use to create a debate-space for arguments pro-and con-Native American "relocation" a la the 1830s.

Kidblog.org is specifically designed for elementary and middle school users. I learned about it via a simple Google Search. They are set up by CLASS and email addresses are NOT required for students--a really big plus. All you do is either enter users one-by-one and enter passwords, or create a simple Excel (CSV) file with that info to bulk upload. That took me even less time than creating accounts for Pikiwiki. Teacher can control all commenting and moderate as much or as little as he or she prefers. Privacy is also controlled--they are all set by default to private, but guest accounts.passwords for parents, etc, are easily created. It is completely AD-FREE.
And of course, both of these tools are...magic words....FREE. I'll document the progress made as we continue with the projects.

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