Book review: RSS for Educators

RSS for Educators

RSS for Educators
Blogs, Newsfeeds, Podcasts, and Wikis in the Classroom
John G. Hendron.
ISTE, 2008. 308 pp.

Blogs, podcasts, and wikis allow students and teachers to publish and access content online and, behind the scenes, RSS is the mechanism that makes it all possible. But this book is not about how to code RSS; rather, it’s about how to use the online tools it enables.

John G. Hendron is a teacher and instructional technologist for Goochland County Public Schools in Virginia.

He argues that the “read/write web” enables students to improve their critical thinking and written and verbal communication. The read/write web supports social constructivist concepts of learning, he says, as students express themselves and learn from knowledge generated in a social space.

Besides helping teachers create opportunities for students to engage in constructivist learning in the classroom, blogs enhance communication with students’ families and the community.

Part 1 devotes an introductory chapter each to blogs, wikis, podcasts, and voice-over-internet and synchronous communication.

Part 2 discusses software applications, devoting a chapter each to audio editing with Audacity and GarageBand, and a chapter each to blogging and using news aggregators.

Part 3 discusses specific classroom scenarios, devoting a chapter each to blogs, wikis, podcasts, news feeds in the classroom, and advanced uses for RSS.

“The read/write web can transform learning and teaching culture,” he writes, “and tools such as blogs can turn what we traditionally consider an information source into a learning environment.

This book is more focused and hands-on than “Web 2.0 New Tools, New Schools (ISTE, 2007). It covers much of the material found in Will Richardson’s 2006 book, Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts” (Corwin Press). But technology has continued to advance over the past two years, and Hendron offers updates in some areas. He devotes significantly more space to podcasting and audio editing, and offers a 12-page appendix of online resources, a glossary, and NETS Standards for teachers and students.

Since late 1995, his school system has required every teacher to maintain a blog. They can be seen here: http://www.glnd.k12.va.us/weblog/

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