Researching the use of PBworks

Assignment Two: ILD 831

For your assigned tool, research (1) What is it?, (2)  How might it be used for your leadership situation (education, healthcare, business, non-profit, etc.)?, and (3) What are downsides to using it?  If you would like to strike out further, go back to the list of top tools.  Given your own discipline and work environment, which resonate with you and appear to have promising possibilities for further research? This second part is optional but might be something some of you want to explore.  This is your initial post which will count as your written assignment for this week.

Keep the focus of your initial post and responses tied to this week’s learning objectives:

    • Research and describe a web-based tool and its potential use.
    • Review and comment on other tools researched by classmates
    • Identify ways that web-based tools can improve productivity in your workplace.

Introduction to the PBworks Tool and its Use – http://pbworks.com/

PBworks is an online collaboration platform that allows users to share files and manage projects within an online environment. It is a commercial product that offers real-time collaborative editing (RTCE).  In short, RTCE is a software application that allows several individuals at one time edit one or several computer documents on different computers. The PBworks tool offers services to a variety of organizational structures that include: agencies, law firms, general businesses, and educational institutions. It also offers free basic features for free and upgraded or advanced features for a fee. PBworks can also build products that are specific to organizational needs.  For example, PBworks will create a specific tool for a non-profit agency to manage their meetings more effectively.

Downsides To Using the Tool

The main downside to this platform is that in order to utilize the full advantage of this tool you have to pay a fee.  This is a downside because there are other similar tools that can be used for free. It really depends on what the organization is utilizing it for.  For example, if organizational members are interested in sharing documents across units, then the organization may want to use google docs (which is free) for this purpose.   There is no need to purchase an application if the main purpose is to share documents.  With the basic free account users only have one single workspace, 2GB storage, no SSL, no per-page security, you can’t use it for business reasons (individual use only), and it has limited email support.

The Educational Leadership (Higher Education perspective)

For an educational leadership perspective regarding PBworks, this tool has many benefits.  First, this website is easy to use and learn.  The most useful way to use this tool is to interact in both online ad campus courses.  Educators can use this tool for discussions about a specific subject.  The students are then able to comment back and forth while providing their thoughts about a topic in question.  Another useful aspect of PBworks is that students that are working in groups can share documents and track their progress on the project while discussing the project’s design, implementation, and follow through all in the same workspace.  This will centralize the location of all project’s documents in one area. This tool would best be fit for online learning as it helps to manage communications between instructor and the students, collectively.  Students are able to login at any time of the day and view comments from other students or feedback that the instructor provides.  The instructor is also able to track student usage and monitor student interaction in an effective way.  Overall, this tool is used as a vehicle for participants of education to exchange creative ideas and documents.

After creating a login and signing in, I was quickly able to create a workspace and get started.  Within the platform is specifically asks the user to choose the field that fits your needs (Legal, Agency, Business, Education). This is very helpful because it reduces the amount of time it would take to train students.  With the fee version of PBworks, you are able to have 100GB of storage and more is available, but with a fee.  With the free version you are able to; export data, customize security options, encrypt information over the internet (SSL), customize your workspace appearance, search, add tasks and milestones to your work, track client engagement, document guest repositories, audit the logging of individual tasks, social network, and microblog.  All of these options are useful and helpful in the educational environment. For example, students can collaborate on projects, share workspaces, add their assignments, share best practices, blog about a specific assignment, track the progress of assignments and projects.

Currently, PBworks hosts more than 300,000 workspaces for the educational industry. As stated on their website, the use of this tool ranges from large universities to public k-12 schools.  Universities and schools use this product to encourage a student-centered environment, provide resources to students, and interact virtually.  Students, faculty, and staff can also easily upload photos and graphics to the platform. This product seems reliable to universities that are using it as it is shown in the testimonials that are stated on their website.

PBworks also offers a platform for knowledge management systems (KMS).  This can be useful in learning environments because it holds information that students or employees can access if they have questions about processes, online learning, subject matter, human resources, educational financing, etc.

PBworks also offers technical support.  They have email and phone support from 7 am to 7 pm Sunday through Friday with a less than four-hour response rate.  This is useful students, faculty, and staff that are having technological issues.

Further Research of other Tools That Can Benefit Education

 

Moving forward, I would like to research a few other tools that may be helpful in the educational environment.  The first one is Audacity.  As an instructor, this can be used to record weekly instructions for assignments, quizzes, and projects for online students.  Having this not only in written form can help students that learn by audio.  I would also like to research Edublogs.  This tool would be useful in an educational setting to provide students to exchange ideas via a blog format, just like we are doing for this class. I will provide students with a means for communicating and sharing their work, as well as, teaching them the application used to do so.

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6 comments
  1. Peter Kramer said:

    Do you know of any issues surrounding the security of your documents on-line? I would think that for business, as with a law firm, the confidentiality of the shared documents would be of paramount importance, particularly given that the document resides in the “cloud.” At the same time, this sounds like a very good tool for collaborative projects in which the project yields (or could use) a shared document repository. Thanks for the information.

    • Hello Matt, this is a great question and I would think that many organizations confidentiality of shared documents are important. As for your question about if there are any issues with security of the document online, I think that any organization could be potentially vulnerable to computer hacking or other security flaws. While doing a bit of research I’ve found some “unofficial” blogs that have discussed issues in security with users that use these applications on their phones or PDA’s. I think that using these applications on devices that are directly connected to the organization’s network or VPN there is a better chance of better security due to firewalls, etc.

  2. It appears that common themes for successful internet tools are centralization and seamless interaction. It goes with the 3rd flattener in Freidman’s reading on the expansion of work flow software. You stated how there are other free solutions to some of the issues that you have to pay for in this tool but it is useful and people pay for it because of the simplicity and centralization of information that it provides. Do you find that centrality and simplicity to be the main selling point of software and internet sites now a days?

  3. Centrality and simplicity are always a benefit when it comes with software applications. This cuts the downtime in training employees and at the same time increases employee/student usability. To answer your questions directly, yes, It seems that software companies use these attributes as selling points to their programs. However, I truly think that it really depends on how the application is designed (free or fee-based). In this particular case, it seems that the software is designed for any level user.

  4. bwatwood said:

    Nice post, Kelly. An early iteration of this course used a wiki like PBWorks instead of blogs for student collaboration. It worked, it was secure, but many of my adult students at the end of class wanted to share their work with co-workers, so having each student create a blog they owned returned the security to the students themselves rather than having me continually managing guest access.

    Audacity is easy (and free) for making audio recordings, but I recently got my first Mac laptop, and I have found that Garage Band is even easier. I have used both for podcasts and meeting recordings for the past six years. I co-teach with two others this semester at VCU, and we have recorded two podcasts so far with Garage Band, which you can find on my blog.

    And I have been with Edublogs for four years. I pay the Pro account rate, which lets the folks in Australia manage the upkeep of WordPress for me, leaving me free to just blog. Edublogs has free accounts, but I found the ads that popped up on free accounts intrusive, so it was worth the $40 a year. For bloggers just starting, Edublogs has a great series of “how to” blog posts that I found very helpful.

  5. kballom said:

    Great Post Kelly I learned a great deal about PB works. I plan on doing more research as a result of your post. Audio recordings are a venue that I have yet to truly explore but plan to do so soon. Did you know that some time ago they hired Jim Groff as CEO, taking over from David Weekly, who started the company

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