PB Works over Wikispaces – for now

Upon returning from my “un-plugged” vacation this past week, I came across several posts in my reader about Wikispaces. Prior to this summer, I’d used wikispaces for several wikis and found it to be very useful and relatively easy to use. This summer, I decided to use PB Works as the main platform for sharing and collaborating with the class I taught to 1st year and beginning teachers. After nearly a month of dedicated use with PB Works, I went back to edit one of my Wikispace wikis and found it rather clunky and missing some of the features I’d grown accustomed to on PB Works.

These are some of the things I like most about PB Works in comparison to Wikispaces:

  • Folders – On PBWorks, you can put pages in different folders instead of an ever growing list of page links down the side of your wiki.  It’s a great way to organize classes, students, or topics.
  • Table options – Tables are difficult to manipulate in Wikispaces.  In PB Works, I can manipulate the size of individual cells or the entire table down to the pixel, split cells, merge cells, change backgrounds, and more.  Making your table do what you want is a pain with Wikispaces.
  • More intuitive interface – PB Works’ user interface is far superior to Wikispaces.  While you can do the same things on both platforms, things are easier to find and use in PB Works.  On Wikispaces you have to click through a couple windows just to center something.
  • Cheaper for advanced permissions – Wikispaces and PB Works give you a pay option if you want to assign user level permissions for various pages.  The only difference is that PB Works is half the price of Wikispaces ($100 per year vs. $200 per year).
  • Free, no advertising wikis not limited to K-12 – PB Works’ free wikis are open to higher ed., businesses, or anyone for free without advertising.  Though you could probably use a free wikispace for higher ed., it says that it is only for K-12.  Otherwise your space will have an advertising bar down the side.

The one thing I like about Wikispaces over PB Works is the discussion page tab listed on every page. PB Works has a comments section on each page, but the discussion feature on Wikispaces is a little more useful. The drawback for both platforms is that the comments/discussions aren’t threaded. One way to overcome this limitation is to put in your own threaded comments with an app like Disqus.

If you’ve been using Wikispaces for a while, I encourage you to give PB Works a try.  This summer, the wiki we used for EDU 586 was almost like an office/library for our class.   Each student had his/her own space to practice with during the first week of class and later made another page to host the lesson they taught as part of the course.  Throughout the class, students (and myself) continued to add to the wiki with comments or new pages.  I know that I will refer back to it frequently and many of the students in the class voiced a similar sentiment.  My hope for this year is to get our entire middle school collaborating on a wiki (probably PB Works).  I envision it as an online portfolio where students can keep their work and collaborate with their peers and/or as a workspace for class projects.


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