Reviewed by Terry Freedman
Classroom Blogging: A teacher’s guide to the blogosphere, David F. Warlick, ISBN: 1-4116-2903-5.
To buy this from either the USA or UK, go to the reviews section of the ICT in Education website (http://www.ictineducation.org) and click on the appropriate link.
The education world seems, at least in the UK at the moment, to be divided into two groups: those who have heard of blogging, and those (the larger group) who haven’t. The first group is divided into two groups: those who use it in some form with their pupils, and those (again, the larger group), who don’t.
I haven’t done the research on this, but from conversations and reading my guess is that teachers don’t tend to incorporate blogging into their classroom practice either because they don’t know how they could do so and still meet the requirements of the curriculum, or simply because it all seems a little too technical and arduous. If so, this book could be the answer.
Most people approach blogging for the first time in the same way, and with the same trepidation, as in the days when swimming instruction consisted of being pushed in the deep end and told to sink or swim! So it’s quite nice to see that Warlick provides both a short history of blogging and what he calls an anatomy of a blog, in which he explains what all the various elements are. Like the rest of the book, it is pretty readable. For example, reading this I was able to understand, for the first time, what a trackback is.
The title of the book is slightly misleading in the sense of underselling itself, because the book also covers, in brief, other avenues of expression such as wikis. That’s a useful inclusion because it goes some way towards enabling teachers to select the best tool for the job.
The technical sections are very readable, such as the information about RSS.
My only criticisms of the book are as follows. Firstly, there is quite a long section on how to use Blogmeister. Now, that’s fair enough, in a way: Blogmeister is a free classroom blogging resource written by the author and available from his website, http://landmark-project.com; so it’s understandable that he should wish to write about his own product in his own book. However, and here’s where the second criticism comes in, the section on what you can use blogs for is great – but far too short! So, the upshot is that, for me at least, it would be better if the Blogmeister bit was cut, and the application suggestions expanded.
Nevertheless, on the whole this is good value for money: readable, comprehensive, inexpensive – and doesn’t weigh too much either!