PBworks cubed

PBworks, formally called PBwiki, is a collaboration service that has taken advantage of the growth in popularity of wikis. Their website claims: “PBworks is the world’s largest provider of hosted business and educational workspaces. We host over 800,000 workspaces, serve millions of users per month, and 96% of PBworks business users would recommend PBworks to a friend.”

Face 1 – Market Focus

I actually had a little difficulty with this. What is their market focus? Public schools, higher education, or corporate training needs? Their service seems blended. Although, their website does indicate that their major markets would be higher education and corporate consumers. PBworks has separate services, such as “Project Edition” and “Campus Edition”, which seems to support this multi-market ambition.

Face 2 – Types of Offering

PBworks is mainly a service providing a product and infrastructure for managing course and students content; although, wikis can be used for numerous other things, including asynchronous communication.

Face 3 – Who is the buyer?

I see two options here, being:

  • “Learning bought for Learner” – perhaps, for example, it is mainly for higher education courses where the instructors wish to include wikis in the course; and
  • “Learning Bought Centrally” – perhaps, for example, a university or schools district has adopted the idea of wikis and wishes to provide this type of learning environment for the entire institution.

This seems evident in the various packages that they provide.

Face 4 – Global Markets

PBworks is mainly focused on “Wired Anglophone Countries, although there is a small market in other areas.

Face 5 – Development of the market

PBwork saw a niche in the market. MediaWiki and Wikispaces would be the two other major competitors; however, PBworks, perhaps seeing the growth of wikis in education and corporate use, simplified the enduser’s experience with wikis. The international market freely imports content and infrastructure, although I’m not aware of many (if any) local companies that produce wiki packages.

Face 6 – Learning Technology Competing with Other Forms of Learning

PBworks would fit under the category: “Learning Technology Substitutes for Others Forms of Learning”. For one thing, their product and service may have to compete with the various LMSs, other Social Media platforms, such as NING, blogging platforms and other services, such as Google Docs. But that’s just “eLearning”. PBworks would have to compete with face-to-face appracs to collaborative approaches to learning.


1 Greg Lewis { 09.24.09 at 7:54 am }


Kind of funny how we selected the same company minutes apart. I agree about who is their main focus? I think I read somewhere that they changed the name to PBWorks to try and go after the commercial sector more – their prices are certainly higher compared to educational but they do get “better features.”


2 James Richardson { 09.25.09 at 9:24 am }

I have used this wiki several times and I am very happy with it. It is much easier to work with than the UBC media Wiki (although I haven’t tried Media wiki for a couple of years now) Has anyone found anything better?

3 Ernest Pao { 09.25.09 at 10:57 pm }

We just installed Media Wiki onto our new school server. Is it not as good as Pbworks? I have yet to play around with the new wiki.

4 Barrie Carter { 09.26.09 at 7:22 pm }

Hello Sean:

I have used PBWorks for a past computer studies 8 course; the students enjoyed using it, especially the embedded chat feature acting as an IM.

Here, in small groups, the students had to create a wiki page collaboratively on an educational game of choice/interest. However, the challenge was that the students had to pretend that computer studies 8 was a DL course. For me, as a teacher, it was interesting to witness the collaborative work that was involved.

In the end, each group had to present their work orally to the rest of the class… a form of showcasing, if you will.

Have you used other wikis like Wikispaces or ZOHO Wiki?



5 Sean McMinn { 09.26.09 at 9:02 pm }


Sounds like your adventure with using wikis is interesting. I’d be interested in knowing what the students thought of using the wiki.

I just installed Media Wiki on our language centre server (well … our tech guy did) for a course. It’s a test run. First year students must collaborate and create a resource of analyses of English discourse in different media, channels, genres, etc. This resource would then be passed onto the next year’s class who would add more articles. Second year students would edit previous year entries.

To come back to PBworks, Media Wiki and others … I am now a little concerned about my choice. The simple reason is … the intuitiveness of the interface. I believe PBworks, and it seems ZOHO, have a better WYSIWYG interface for students. I’m worried that the coding involved for formating a page would bog down my students.

Of course, what attracted me to Media Wiki was it’s price (free).


6 Cari Wilson { 09.27.09 at 10:50 am }

I’ve played around with several wiki platforms, including Mediwiki and what used to be PBwiki and I still keep coming back to Wikispaces. Wikispaces is easy to use (my grade 7s have created some pretty impressive sites without much help from me) and it’s totally free to educators. By the way, it’s WYSIWYG but you can also use HTML if you know it. Some of my students even began experimenting with code, which was neat to see!

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