The evolution of the classroom

From the New York Times on August 16, 2008:

The educational bottom line, it seems, is that while computer technology has matured and become more affordable, the most significant development has been a deeper understanding of how to use the technology.

“Unless you change how you teach and how kids work, new technology is not really going to make a difference,” said Bob Pearlman, a former teacher who is the director of strategic planning for the New Technology Foundation, a nonprofit organization.

The needs of students have already shifted due to the development of web-based technology. The recognition of this rapid evolution seems to be a common theme in the news lately.

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Web Tools for Educators

Several lists of web tools have been created and then revised over time by Rick Lillie, an accounting professor at California State University. He also has a blog that has a lot more information about web-based tools that can be used in an academic environment, and what looks like a new WordPress blog.

Web Tools on the August 8, 2008 list include:

  1. TokBox is a free Web 2.0 video messaging service. TokBox enables me to record up to a 15 minute video message. TokBox gives me a URL link that I can include in an email message. TokBox also provides code with which to embed a Flash player in a website or web page. TokBox includes a unique feature that enables video-conferencing with up to six people. My students use this feature when working together on a project.

  2. VoiceThread is a Web 2.0 hosted service that takes slide-type presentations to a whole new level. It is easy to create presentations with either audio or video support tracks. VoiceThread makes it possible to record “live annotations” while recording a presentation. The end result is a streaming presentation that greatly improves instructor presence. VoiceThread creates a warmer teaching-learning experience.

  3. Google Docs is a Web 2.0 technology tool that enables collaboration. A great feature is the ability to save a document in a variety of formats including Adobe Acrobat’s .pdf format. It’s free and can be used with other Web 2.0 tools to empower the collaboration process.

The lists can be seen here.

Innovative Journalism

Via Threat Level on August 6, 2008:

Threat Level is one of four finalists in the 2008 Knight-Batten Awards for Innovations in Journalism for our readers’ work digging up over 100 self-serving anonymous edits performed by corporations and governments on Wikipedia.

Readers used WikiScanner to uncover the shenanigans: that’s the searchable web mash-up crafted by CalTech graduate student and internet superhero Virgil Griffith. Griffith merged a database of Wikipedia edits with internet address records, allowing anyone to search on the name of a company or agency, and see all of the anonymous Wikipedia edits made from its address space.

When Griffith announced the tool last August, we realized that a lot of chicanery could now be exposed with a little effort. So we set up a Reddit widget and asked you to do all the work. You submitted the Wikipedia manipulation you uncovered, and voted up the most shameful whitewash jobs.