How does a wiki differ from a website or a blog?

". . . the selection of a material or activity is also the selection of an array of forces that will influence how students will be challenged to think. . . . The curriculum is a mind-altering device." (Eisner, 2002, pp. 13, 72).

At first glance, it may be difficult for some educators to see that wikis have any more to offer to education than a standard website or a blog. However, wikis differ in several significant ways from those web-based technologies. The content on a website is frequently authored and posted by one person. If multiple authors are involved, they generally submit their content to a single person (a.k.a. webmaster) who is responsible for preparing the content for display on the web. While users may be able to interact with the content on a website, submit comments about it, or participate in polls, most websites do not allow users to modify the content or the structure of such sites. Thus, websites tend to be very centralized and to function as presentations to an unknown audience.

Blogs, on the other hand, make it possible for multiple authors to contribute content (although this is still not especially common), and the comments feature that accompanies each blog posting invites readers into interpersonal conversations with the author(s) and with one another. Nonetheless, users do not have the ability to modify original content, anyone else’s contributions, or the structure of the site as a whole. So while blogs do permit limited interpersonal communication, they are especially useful in fostering conversations that can support the development of interpretive communication skills


By contrast, wikis allow anyone who has been given editing privileges by the organizer to contribute content, to modify the content that others have submitted, and to alter the structure of the site itself (Lund, 2008). This enables users to engage deeply with the content itself while simultaneously constructing and negotiating its form and meaning with other users . Hence, wikis simultaneously yield the presentational affordances of a traditional website, the interpretive possibilities inherent in a blog, and the intense level of interpersonal engagement that other emerging social technologies make possible--all in one package. In other words, wikis are particularly well-suited to supporting constructivist instructional approaches to teaching and learning world languages that are based on the Standards for Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century (National Standards in Foreign Language Education Project, 1999; Martinez-Carrillo & Pentikousis, 2008).


Scholarly References

Eisner, Elliot W. (2002). The arts and the creation of mind. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Lund, Andreas. (2008). Wikis: A collective approach to language production. ReCALL, 20(01), 35-54. Retrieved May 23, 2008, from

Martinez-Carrillo, Carmen, & Pentikousis, Kostas. (2008). An application of wikis for mediated collaborative learning to Spanish L2. In M. Roccetti (Ed.), Internet and Multimedia Systems and Applications, 612. Innsbruck, Austria: ACTA Press.

National Standards in Foreign Language Education Project. (1999). Standards for Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century. National Standards in Foreign Language Education Project, 6 Executive Plaza, Yonkers, NY 10701-6801. Tel: 914-963-8830. Executive summary available:

Multimedia References

Free Buttons. (n.d.). Blur metal. Retrieved March 17, 2008, from