Panel Description:

Schools and educational institutions are finding significant practical applications for the tools of Web/Office 2.0, but the hurdles to adoption are as large as the potential for change (and possibly directly correlated). As in the Enterprise, there are significant practical challenges to overcome--security, filtering, and comfort with and appropriateness of openness--but there is a great potential for a dramatic rethinking of the role of formal institutions in teaching and learning.

The promise of Web 2.0 technologies is so great that almost all of the basic types of online collaborative software are being used by teachers somewhere, whose own use of the tools is minimizing their sense of isolation and creating a strong communities of practice and professional development. But while these tools open new vistas of collaborative learning, distance education, differentiated or individualized instruction, and proactive educational paths, they also inherently challenge our culturally entrenched and traditional learning structures.

Blogs have been the primary entry point of Web 2.0 into education, but educators in growing numbers are also now engaging students by using wikis, podcasting, collaborative documents, social networking, social bookmarking, photo- and video-sharing, and other tools of user-generated content. In many (but not all) cases, students are coming to school with a broad familiarity with these technologies, but not necessarily with the depth of understanding to use them thoughtfully or carefully. Do they park these skills at the door before coming into the classroom, or can schools help students to learn to use them in productive educational ways? Can we afford to have enough computing technology in schools to do so? Can and should we train existing teachers to use the tools themselves so that they, in turn, can help the students understand and incorporate them into their educational lives? How does collaborative technology change the role of the teacher? How relevant is formal education when access to the world's knowledge-base is often more accessible at home than at school? How significant will collaborative technologies become for the administrative side of education? What role will commercial organizations play in filling in the gaps?

Many feel that educational computing has been the great unfulfilled promise of the last twenty years. Come join us as we discuss how this may be changing, and fast, because of Web/Office 2.0