dynamic collaboration and thoughtful citizenship

From the New York Times on October 11, 2008, with emphasis added:

The same chatting software that, when mismanaged, give us fits in our classrooms, enables us to collaborate in dynamic ways. Students now continue fiery classroom debates when they get home from school. They now walk each other through difficult readings of “The Odyssey” and “Hamlet” and return to class with stronger understandings. Our projects are regularly published — which leads to comments and ongoing conversations with the outside world.

As important as it is for students to expand their sense of community and learn to collaborate — it is more crucial that they learn how to sift thoughtfully through increasing amounts of information. The Internet presents a unique challenge to scholarship — many of the questions that once required extensive research can now be answered with 10-minute visits to Google. The issue now is distinguishing between rich resources and the online collection of surface facts, misinformation, and inexcusable lies that masquerade as the truth. It will be hard for our students to be thoughtful citizens without this ability to discern the useful from the irrelevant.

The practice of education is undergoing a rapid transformation due to web technology.  It appears that the Internet is finding its way into classrooms because it effectively facilitates the goals of education and it is relevant to the real lives of students.

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