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Volume 23, Number 3
May/June 2007

Better Teaching with Web Tools

How blogs, wikis, and podcasts are changing the classroom

 

  • Eric Langhorst’s eighth-grade American History students in Liberty, Mo., listen to his podcasts about the Boston Tea Party while walking their dogs, doing chores, or getting ready for bed.
  • Ben Sanoff’s World History students in Berkeley, Calif., discuss their essays via instant messages before posting their final drafts to the class blog by midnight deadlines. Later they return to the blog to read and discuss one another’s work.
  • Fifth graders in College Park, Ga., create a wiki so compelling it receives over 1,000 hits from as far away as Indonesia, Turkey, and Latin America in the first few days after it’s posted. The site, centered on a historical novel, includes a slide show, maps, historical background, and interviews.
From blogs to wikis to podcasts, teachers in schools across the country are beginning to use Web tools to enhance student learning. If these tools are transforming how students learn, they’re also changing how teachers teach.

Those who have waded into this brave new world say the use of Web tools in the classroom naturally propels teachers from lecturing at the front of the room to coaching from the back, a direction education professionals have been trying to steer teachers in for decades. With their peers—or the world—as their audience, students are eagerly seizing the opportunity to take charge of their learning.

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article. Click here to become a subscriber.

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How Much Information? 2003. Available online at http://www2.sims.berkeley.edu/research/projects/how-much-info-2003/execsum.htm

W. Richardson. Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for the Classroom. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, 2006.

D.R. Warlick. Classroom Blogging: A Teacher’s Guide to the Blogosphere. Raleigh, NC: The Landmark Project, 2005. Available at landmark-project.com

N.E. Willard. Cyberbullying and Cyberthreats: Responding to the Challenge of Online Social Aggression, Threats, and Distress. Champaign, IL: Research Press, 2007.