We have always used writing in journals as a method of free writing. I want to go digital this year and have students use a computer to do their writing. Can I use a wiki or a blog? Anyone else do journal writing on computer?
If you want students to journal and others to respond you would need a blog. You can see our student blog here My blog is posted on the frontpage and each student has their own blog. Start with recent posts to see what students are writing about. Let me know if you need more info. Search for student blogs on this site and you will get lots of info on what different people are using for students.
Can I throw another option in here? I'm debating blog vs. wiki vs. forum for journal writing this year. I'm thinking more of a forum for the journal writing, but also set up a wiki or a blog to showcase student projects throughout the year.
Another consideration is the audience. Who read the journals that the students used for free writing? Do you want student "free writing" to have a global audience?
Moodle, Elgg, and WordPress give the author and the teacher some control over this. Although I don't know the ins and outs of every wiki engine, I don't think they are well suited for access control over individual posts. Wikis are designed for collaborative writing; whereas, blogs are designed for journaling from the get go.
Every year my class has written daily journal entries in composition books. They were handed in each day and I wrote comments on each students entry. Very time consuming on my end, let alone carting 20 notebooks from home to school. This year I'm going to have my students blog each day instead. Each student will have a private blog. They will be allowed to read each other's entries and make comments. Have not field tested this but going to try it out this year.
I'm sure the kids will love it. Word of caution, any time kids blog, respond to online discussions, etc there is a lot of commenting required by the teacher. I made that mistake when 40 of my gifted 4-6th graders responded to questions in an online book discussion (we used Moodle). I spent hours a week reading and responding!! You might go to a rotating schedule where they only post a couple of times a week or you may be inundated!
I work for a charity called Rafi.ki which runs an online learning community. It's completely free to sign up. Your students can use the site to create homepages, and work on projects and then post their work online. There is also the chance to connect and communicate with other schools. http://www.rafi.ki/site/about.php