How I Use It
I created a class wiki to house all sorts of information including class syllabus, class schedules, contact information, class pacing, links to important sites, and then class content.
As we cover new units of information, we would add a page of class content that I would make students in charge of. This led to ownership of that material by the students. Students would then become familiar with ways to add video, links, pictures, etc. and then would present this to the class. We would then discuss as a class the content that is out there (if it is pertinent and correct), what should be added/changed/deleted, and what other suggestions they have to make the page better. Structure of the page is the last assignment for every page as we want to make the page useful to every student, parent, and teacher who came across it. I would send links to the student content pages to parents via e-mail, newsletters, conferences, etc.
This acted as my class' website basically. Parents could access it for class information and could instantly see what their students were working on and creating in class.
Students had a place to go to see all of their work over the past year. It also was an excellent tool for students to go for review before tests and quizzes.
All in all, PBWorks has been a positive experience for my students and their parents.
PBworks allows teachers and students a medium in which to create a content rich Wiki that increases ownership in the learning process. The concept is fairly simple. You can create pages within the Wikispace that can house all sorts of information. The front landing page is the most important page in that students will go here to navigate to the specific information they are looking for or are looking to update. There are navigators on the side but most people use the front landing page main space to navigate.
That is where PBworks can be very dangerous. It's extremely important to make sure the front page is clear and as clutter free as possible. It's very easy for teachers and students to get lazy and just haphazardly type loads of information on their pages. I would recommend that very simple pictures of the main parts of the wiki be created and labelled so that everyone who comes to the wiki knows exactly where to navigate to.
There is a bit of a learning curve but students and teachers alike will learn best by creating and editing their own pages. Since this is a Wiki that is shared by the class, it is also very important to constantly monitor updates to the Wiki. PBWorks makes it simple to do this through different settings and also allows you to revert the pages back to previous saved iterations. You can also see each update.
One final concern is the amount of e-mail this generates when there is an update. Sometimes, PBWorks defaults to sending users updates about changes every time there is a change. It's a very simple change in settings that can make these updates non-existent or less frequent. On the other hands, it may be useful to get updates on changes on a frequent basis.
In summary, PBWorks is an extremely powerful tool for information sharing and creating and editing content. It is very customizable to meet the needs of your classroom if you are willing to take the time to learn about the features that are most important to you.