Book review – Teaching with wikis, blogs, podcasts, & more

My goal for June: 30 days, 30 book reviews. Today’s book is Teaching With Wikis, Blogs, Podcasts, & More: Dozens of Easy Ideas for Using Technology to Get Kids Excited About Learning, by Kathleen Fitzgibbon. My short recommendation? Stay away from this book.

What I liked about the book

TeachingwithwikisThe only redeeming aspect of this book is that the author gives some ideas for classroom lessons and projects that may be useful for educators who are new to social media.

What I didn’t like about the book

There’s not much in this book. It’s only 48 pages long and is intended for grades 3 and higher. We bought this book thinking that it would be an interesting end-of-year gift for our son’s 4th-grade teacher. When it arrived from Amazon and we saw what it was, we gave her Will Richardson’s book, Blogs, Wikis, Podcats, and Other Powerful Tools for Classrooms, instead.

The back cover of the book says “This book of quick tips and practical ideas shows how to fuse technology with everyday teaching. Readers will learn ways to use presentation software, e-portfolios, digital cameras, interactive whiteboards, and other teacher-tested tools to enhance learning and motivate students.” What you get, however, is simplistic and fairly unhelpful.

Key quotes

Here are a couple of examples of what’s in the book…

Have students go online and find a free software tool for creating blogs. They name their blogs and create a blog address or URL. Encourage students to make the title catchy. Have students choose a template, a tool that creates the page where they write and categorizes content. Have students write their first blog posting. (p. 16)

That’s it. That’s the kind of advice you get for setting up your students’ blogs. If you can navigate these instructions successfully, you don’t need the book in the first place because you already know enough about blogs to make this happen.

Here’s another one…

Publish the podcast. Go to any free online server that provides a server for uploading audio files. (p. 32)

Again, I’m thinking that any educator that can do this successfully with the given instructions has no need for the book. The book is full of stuff like this.

Rating

I give this book 1 highlighter (out of a possible 5). I was tempted to give it 0, but there are some redeeming ideas for future lessons scattered throughout the book. As far as I can tell, there isn’t much other reason for anyone to buy this book. Whatever’s in here can be better found on web sites and blogs.

highlighter1 

[See my other reviews and recommended reading]

4 Responses to “Book review – Teaching with wikis, blogs, podcasts, & more”

  1. Wow. Thanks for the review. I am currently working on a project for my instructional technology graduate program. I asked my colleagues at work what they wanted to learn how to do so that I could complete a project that would ultimately be useful to my school. Hands down they wanted to learn how to create Web sites and podcasts. I can’t see how they could navigate instructions like those.

  2. But … it has such a nice cover. Very colorful.
    :)
    I agree with Dana — if that piece you shared is a sample of what is in the rest of the book … ahhh.
    Thanks for the critical review.
    Kevin

  3. I agree with that – the Richardson book is by far superior. I am using it as a guide for our PD next year. We will be introducing Wikis, Blogs & Podcasts to our teachers and creating a ‘tech team’ of students (club) so that they can do all of this as well. There are some pretty exciting things going on at our school next year!

  4. Thanks for this review. I can’t believe (well, sadly, I can) that Scholastic would be so out of touch as to publish something like this. It’s great that the book advocates using these tools but I can’t imagine telling a group of 8th graders at my school (or 7th, or 6th, and it just gets more ridonkulous from there down) to attempt to “go online and find a free software tool for creating blogs,” thus abdicating (or accepting) any responsibility for the result! Most students need a LOT more structure than that, and as educators we know which blog sites are best for our students.

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