Web 2.0 Tools in the Classroom: Valuable or Distracting?

The following was posted on The Chronicle site today and has kicked-off a lively discussion.

Web 2.0 Classroom Versus Learning
By: Josh Fischman

There were some skeptics here this morning at The Chronicle Technology Forum, listening to a talk called “Building the Classroom of the Future: From iTunes to Twitter.” Some in the audience seemed unconvinced that tools connecting students to the Web, and to one another, would help in that future classroom.

Making the case for Web 2.0, Cole W. Camplese, director of education technology services at Pennsylvania State University at University Park, spoke engagingly about the opportunities for students to draw information from the Internet and bring it into classroom discussions.

At least two professors in the audience, however, questioned the value of open laptops and ongoing Web searches during class. When teaching physics, one of them said, some aspects require sustained concentration and focus from students. He was concerned that they would not learn intricate equations if their attention was divided.

This is an ongoing debate in higher education. It has led some professors to ban laptops. It has led others to argue that Web tools make the classroom a more productive place. There seems to be substantial evidence supporting both positions. Which side are you on, and why? (Source)

What is your reaction? Do you think Web 2.0 tools enhance teaching and learning or are they distractions?

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Clif Mims is a Christian, husband, father, teacher, cancer warrior, and fan of the Mississippi State Bulldogs and Memphis Grizzlies.