Web 2.0-savvy teachers testing old assumptions

Teachers are often portrayed as being clueless about technology, but ever more of them are putting that stereotype to the test, CNN reports. Web 2.0 technologies in particular have found a receptive audience among educators. Many use blogs to share ideas on teaching and technology, some of which might surprise students. One idea in the teacher blogosphere: In the age of podcasts, kill off the classroom lecture, or at least rely on it less. Why fill classroom time with passive listening in a chemistry class if it could be better used for practice and interaction? Lectures can be listened to at home as a podcast. In response to another blogger’s post on the topic, Pennsylvania teacher Louise Maine suggests: "Students can listen to it as many times as needed, make notes of questions to ask in class, and maintain for a reference. We can require notes to be shown for evidence of work having been done." Shifting attitudes among teachers in recent years have been observed by others. "There is a growing perception that student communication and online collaboration are important 21st-century skills," says Jeff Patterson, president of Gaggle.net, a company offering safe eMail for students. His company got off to a slow start after launching in late 1999. "Schools and teachers were just not ready for email and online communication tools," says Patterson. But now Gaggle.net manages nearly 2 million eMail accounts, offers student blogs, and plans to release more online collaboration tools. A seventh-grade science teacher in Indiana, Jeff Peterson, says students at his school use Gaggle to collaborate and manage files, "skills they will need to use in the workplace or in college."

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