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aPLaNet ICT Tools Factsheets_12_PBworks

aPLaNet ICT Tools Factsheets_12_PBworks

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Published by Burcu Akyol

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Published by: Burcu Akyol on Jan 19, 2012
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05/01/2014

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1
The project
Autonomous “Personal Learning Networks” for Language Teachers has been funded with support from the
European Commission. This document reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsiblefor any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
Resource Number 12
 
PBworks
URLhttp://pbworks.comCategory IV
Collaboration Tools
 –
Wikis
Keywords
collaboration, editable, shared resources
Rationale
PBworks aims to support collaborative learning and is connected with the assumption that learning can be much more effectivewhen not done in isolation. Moreover, it decentralises learning, since the teacher is not necessarily the central figure. Advantagesof using wikis such as PBworks, include the development of learner independence/autonomy, the negotiation of learningobjectives and methods between teacher and learners, and choice of activities. PBworks and all wikis, more generally, facilitatesharing ideas, resources, teaching and learning materials and the learners' own work, i.e. projects, assignments etc. In this way,learners can learn from each other as well as from the teacher. Needless to say, teachers can also learn from their learners, aswell as from each other, so sharing ideas, opinions and resources among educators is a key feature of collaborative learning.PBworks is also a great tool for Continuous and Autonomous Professional Development for Teachers as it is ideal for collaborative projects for teachers from the same institution or from a variety of countries within and outside the Europeancontext.
Description
PBworks
is
one of the best known wiki platforms. It is a very simple version of an editable website, which allows multipleparticipants to contribute and edit pages and documents. It is extremely versatile in form and structure and this makes it ideal for sharing and shaping content in a variety of contexts. A PBworks wiki can be as public or as private as preferred, by adjusting your preferences in the Users and Settings tabs on thetop bar. The administrators can choose who can have access to the wiki and at what level. One has to be authorised as a Writer in order to be able to use the Edit option or to create a new page, upload a file etc. Additional options can be seen at the topright-hand corner.
Resources required
 All that is needed is a basic functional Internet connection. This tool is very user-friendly and suitable for less experiencedtechnology users.
 Obligatory resources
 
desktop computer or laptop
 
an Internet connection (not necessarily broadband)
 
an e-mail address (although it is possible to register students who do not have one)
 
registration at http://pbworks.com
. 
 
Cost
PB works offer two options:
 
Free Plan
All the features needed for a relatively small group are free. That includes the ability to invite up to 100members to your wiki and 2GB of storage space, as well as some customisation options.
 
Paid Plan
For more features, subscriptions start at $99/year.
 
 
 
2
The project
Autonomous “Personal Learning Networks” for Language Teachers has been funded with support from the
European Commission. This document reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsiblefor any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
Setup and Configuration
There is no need to download any software. In order to get started, a user account has to be set up
at 
 
requires a
username
and
password
, as well as a valid e-mail account. The next step for a free wiki is to choose the Personaloption from the home page menu and choose a
name
for the wiki. This generates a link to the wiki that looks like this:http://name.pbworks.com. 
 
The option
I agree that this workspace is for non-commercial use only 
”  
has to be ticked and then there are two more choices:select whether the wiki is for individual or educational use and whether it is going to be public or private (by invitation only). Thenthe front page is displayed and customisation may begin.
Styling
 
There is one customisation option for free accounts: the colour scheme. However, since it is very easy to add pictures,videos and sounds to any wiki page, the final look can be quite polished and distinctive.
 
Furthermore, a set of 5 ready-made templates is available, which can be used to form the layout of the new pagescreated. Of course, there is also the option to start with a blank page and build it up from scratch.
 
Finally, there is an excellent word-processing tool at the top of each page, accessible through the Edit tab. This lookssimilar to Word, is very easy to use and allows for further customisation: along with all the usual font and colour options, tables can be inserted and coloured, pictures can be inserted and edited and widgets can be embedded.
Navigation and operation
There are four tabs on the front page:
Wiki, Pages and Files, Users and Settings
.
 
The first one leads to the main content.
 
The second provides access to content management and organisation.
 
The third allows administrators to control the level of access the current users are to have.
 
The fourth deals with privacy, security, notifications and more advanced technical configurations.The main navigation tools are on the sidebar on the right. All that is needed is to left-click on any of the links in these twonwindows and the relevant page or file is displayed. The Navigator window automatically classifies pages and files in alphabeticalorder. The Sidebar window is editable and it allows for complete control over content structure and navigation.In order to create new content - once the necessary permissions have been granted
 –
one goes to
Create a page
. Apart from theabove-mentioned template, table, image, video, colour and widget selections, there is one more very important option available:by left-clicking on any of the links provided in the Navigation and Sidebar windows, this link appears on the new page, is clickableand enables cross-referencing.There is also the option of uploading new content from the hard disk: once in
Edit
mode, the sidebar looks like this: By clickingon
Images and Files
, the option
Upload files
becomes available. Having selected and uploaded your files, they automaticallyappear as links in the window on the right. Left-clicking on a link will automatically insert it on the page. Please note that thisfunction is available not only for document formats, but also for image and audio files. After adding the desired content, left-clicking on the
Save
button at the bottom left-hand corner allows you to exit the
Edit
modeand saves all your content. The same procedure is followed if one wishes to change or add to the content of any wiki page.Finally, it should be mentioned that, depending on the
Notification
settings, there is the option to immediately inform all wikiparticipants about new content directly through their e-mail accounts.
 
 
 
3
The project
Autonomous “Personal Learning Networks” for Language Teachers has been funded with support from the
European Commission. This document reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsiblefor any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
Implementation methodology
  A wiki is an excellent platform for content storage and sharing. This makes it ideal for organising course content in a variety of contexts: distance, contact or blended learning. The emphasis on collaborative editing and ease of access in a highlycustomisable yet very secure environment renders PBworks wiki suitable for use with learners of all ages and levels of proficiency.
Teaching/Learning ideas:
 
Organise and deliver course content in a variety of formats, all in one place if so desired.
 
 
Organise assignment work, deliver products and feedback.
 
 
Have learners work together on a project.
 
 
Set up task-based activities in general.
 
 
Have learners edit each other's assignment work.
 
 
Provide learners with further resources, like additional reading, videos to watch and other relevant online content.
 
 
 Assign each learner their own individual page, where they can upload their work and receive comments and feedback.
 
 
Keep records of learner work and progress.
 
 
Facilitate self-access work.
 
 
Help learners create their own work portfolio.
 

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