​Overview:

Blogs and Podcasts are internet communication tools, commonly used by individuals but also used by companies and institutions in recent years. Blog is short for "web log" and was originally conceived as a sort of online diary. People could create their own web site and then post their daily thoughts on any topic of their choice. Blogs still have that same basic idea, but in many cases have become much more professional and sophisiticated. The recent Hollywood movie "Julie and Julia" was actually based on the blog "Julie and Julia Project".
The Ipod started the podcast revolution
The Ipod started the podcast revolution

Podcasts are online radio shows. The "pod' in the name originally comes from the Ipod, which popularized the concept of podcasts through its online Itunes music/entertainment delivery software. Podcasts, in both availability and concept, have now expanded to included any type of online broadcast of audio or visual material. Deeming something a "podcast" usually means that the content is part of a series or a set, but single download can also sometimes be considered podcasts.

Universities have used podcasts extensively to put their course content online for download. Itunes U is an extraordinary resource where anyone with a computer and the internet can listen to full class lectures at top-ranked universities like Stanford, Berkeley, and Yale.

Blogs, like podcasts, are also becoming widewspread among college campuses. According to Marquette University's Dean of the College of Education, Bill Henk, his blog's purpose is to provide a public forum on vital issues related to Education (1). Because blogging allows the ability for readers to leave comments in an ineractive format (2) Dean Henk in bold letters in his blog states that he "seeks to inspire meaningful responses from readers that will not only enrich debates, but advance knowledge and practice [within Education]." Bill Henk's like other blog's is primarily textual. However, other forms of blogs may have other focusues such as art called art blogs; photography blogs called photoblogs; video blogs called video blogs ; music blogging called mp3 blogs; and audio blogging called podcasting.

Learning Theories and Blogging/Podcasting:

Like much technology, blogs and podcasts can be related to many learning theories. The use of a podcast that contained direct instruction material, where students listed to instructions and completed tasks, might be a perfect vehicle for behaviorist teaching.

More commonly, blogs and podcasts would probably be used toward constructivist and student-centered teaching. Having students develop their own blogs and upload their own podcasts allows them a level of creative freedom, forces them to create material on their own, and provides a perfect forum for the demonstration of their individually constructed knowledge.

Benefits and Challenges:

BENEFITS:
Podcasts and blogs have benefits in that they may naturally motivate student interest. They are current and "popular" technology, and many students will be familiar with their function and may find them "cool". This could especially be the case when allowing students to create their own blogs and podcasts.

CHALLENGES:
Monitoring blogs and creating and uploading podcasts can be time and energy consuming, which can be a major drawback for busy teachers and students. A poorly used blog, with static content and few updates, is a quick route to failure. These tools, if used by a teacher to convey content, have to be constantly updated to be effective. Also, these are usually in the public domain, and students will need to be thoroughly coached on "appropriate" content if they will be editing themselves.

Special Guidance Needed:

If students are using blogs and podcasts to create and distribute their own content they will need to be coached on the time commitment and what is approrpiate for information in the public domain.


Current Research:

Blogging was orignially created and used as an alternative to the online diary. Online blogging became popular in the late 1990's and has emerged over the ​last twenty years. Blogging has also appealed to mainstream media for both the person who provides the news story and for the readers of the blog that offer their own insight and responses. Even though social blogging has become the most popular, especially with the helps of websites such as MySpace and Twitter, classroom blogging has emerged allowing new innovative ways for teachers to enhance learning in the classroom. Because responses to blogging maybe in audio blog form (podcasting), 128px-Feed-icon_svg.pngan RSS feed icon is commonly used to indicate the web feedback from podcasting.
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Please refer to the websites below for additional websites on current research on blogs:
Educational Uses of Blogs
Blogs and Internet Projects
Brief History about Blogs
Brief History about Podcasting

Lesson Ideas:

Institution: Elementary School, 2nd and 3rd grade
Setting: In order to create an internet friendly setting, the host of the blog is Jefferson Bear, a friendly teddy bear. Even though we know the teacher is really the host, the students anticipate the questions their "teddy bear" will ask.
Purpose: To set up an environment where students are able to learn how to conduct research, cognitively answer questions, provide their own suggestions, and to promote learning between peers.
Procedure/Results: Students answer questions weekly based on regular class topics such as my friends and I are endangered wildlife, what's being done to help us? Students answer the questions with the help of online resources provided by the teacher. Students are able to see others posts as well. The following week their "teddy bear" may ask them if they have ever been teased. If so, how did they feel? What should they do when being teased? Students respond to the questions and the following week read their other classmates responses.
Resource: Blogs and Internet Projects

Institution: Elementary School, 4th and 5th grade
Setting: A class blog set up so students can participate in online literature discussions.
Purpose: Innovative ways to promote and engage reading. This activity can also help students to comprehend and remember what they have read, if they have to sum up what was read in short sentences. The feedback improves student’s writing style as well.
Procedure/Result: Working in groups, students read short pieces of text (about 4-6 paragraphs) following a literature format. Each student selects and writes about what stood out to them in the text. Their blog responses are shared with other students and students possibly from a higher grade level, if the teacher has set up this type of network channels. Both the teacher and the peer reviewer from a higher grade review the student’s work and provide feedback.
Resource: Blogs and Internet Projects

Institution: Middle School or High School
Setting: A class blog designed to enrich a science class
Purpose: Blogging allows teachers to reinforce class topics and introduce new class topics and concepts. It helps students to review important class points, review for tests, and offer new insights or expand on what he/she has learned in the classroom.
Procedure/ Result: The teacher provides information on various topics science related, outlining key points, terms, and concepts. Students are able to research the topic and respond to the information given by providing text, video, or audio (podcasting) responses. Students are able to offer new insights as well as convey what he/she has learned.
Resource: Blogging to Improve Instruction


Resources:

(1) http://marquetteeducator.wordpress.com/about/
(2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog