Comparison: Google Sites vs Wikispaces vs PBwiki

The battleground is set: Google has finally unleashed it's version of what a wiki should look like after buying one of the, at the time, major players, JotSpot, back in 2006.

How does it stack up when compared with two of the current most popular wiki providers to educators?

Read this doc on Scribd: Google Sites vs Wikispaces vs PBwiki

PBwiki: I have used PBwiki on the past, it was my first 'wiki love'. I administered a wiki that was used by 80+ students who created over 600 pages. It was mostly stable but the major problem was that students had difficulty with formatting. They kept expecting it to act like Word and for all that the editor is supposedly WYSIWYG: WYS is not always WYG. In particular they found tables tricky and formatting around images.

I spent quite a bit of time on their forums, there were some helpful users but the prevalence of spam made it look like the support staff were not keeping on top of things. They have since migrated the forums to a more professional looking provider so let's hope that support has improved.

I am now really looking forward to PBwiki 2.0. I received notification of an impending invite to the beta so I'll let you know how it goes once I have signed up and played around. One of the most highly anticipated features is page level access which seems to have been implemented with teachers in mind. It will enable the admin to restrict a student's access to only their pages, their group's pages, or their course pages depending on what you want the wiki to do.

Wikispaces: I have been using Wikispaces more often than PBwiki of late because I like the clean lines, all of it's components seem better integrated and because they give so much more storage space. It also looks a little like Wikipedia so students have that instant recognition of what it is for.

The lack of variety in fonts and colours is a double-edged feature. On the negative side, pages can look downright boring, on the positive side, students spend less time mucking around with formatting and concentrate on the content. Embedding HTML elements has always gone smoothly for me, unlike once or twice when PBwiki did not like what I was trying to embed.

Google Sites: What can Google possibly have to this offer in this already mature field?

  1. Seamless integration of Google Apps

  2. A huge wealth of expertise in making things just work

  3. A nice interface

So far, in the limited time that I have been testing it out, the WYSIWYG editor has worked as advertised. Tables have behaved properly and uploading files has been a cinch. Embedding Youtube videos was, of course, effortless.

But then they have gone and done something weird. Google sites is only open to organisations signed up to Google apps. I can't just sign in with my Google ID. As an individual I can't make my own Google site, to organise a family reunion, say without buying a domain. You need a corporate or education domain so as a teacher I was able to set one up using my school email address and the domain of my school. Its odd but I guess they have their reasons. No doubt the news is out there and I just haven't read it yet.


ms. whatsit said...

Sounds like there are control issues over at Google.

Just this year, I've been playing around with Google Docs, Google Reader and iGoogle. My current assignment in a class I'm taking is to explore Google Earth. I'm really impressed with all that Google has to offer, so I appreciate your review of Google wikis.

I too have used both PBWiki and WikiSpaces. I definitely prefer WikiSpaces. You can see a list of my wikis here

Chris said...

Hi, this is Chris from PBwiki! Once you get your 2.0 invite (which should be arriving shortly), I think you'll find that 2.0 offers a much cleaner look, with features like page-level access that will really make it work for teachers. Let us know how it goes!

Jason de Nys said...

Wow! I have only just started this blog and I already have a comment from the PBwiki team.
I received my ticket for PBwiki 2.0 this morning and have already given feedback re the 10MB storage limit. Chris replied super fast and said that it was something that they are looking at given the current market.

Anonymous said...

I like the cleaner look of 2.0 pb wiki as well. I just started playing with it and haven't figured out how to link the pages yet. Guess I got used to 1.0. My experience with wiki pages has been problematic.I often freeze and the site disables my ability to had images.

PB wiki has a nice interface to upload plug in's and gadgets. I hope they work on WUSWUG. That is especially ticky with images-but to be fair O hae the same image issues in google blogger.

I tried to set up a ggolde wiki with school addy and school server-my server bounces it as it sees google as spam mail.


Steve Dickie said...

I was just checking Google Sites and you do get 10 GB plus 500MB/user account of storage for Primer or Education Editions.

I wonder how they parcel that out. We have 1000 users, so that would amount to 500 GB!!! If I'm first in to Sites could I fill that all up?

H. said...

Apparently, wikispaces supports LaTeX typesetting for math, though I haven't worked with it yet. Does Google Sites support mathematical typesetting in any way?

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