“The modern American school faces rough challenges. Budget cuts have caused ballooning class sizes,  many teachers struggle with poorly motivated students, and in many schools a war is being waged on distracting technologies. In response, innovative educators are embracing social media to fight back against the onslaught of problems. Technologies such as Twitter and Skype offer ideal solutions as inexpensive tools of team-based education.

Pockets of experimentation are emerging all around the world, and I hope to inspire my fellow teachers with some stories of success. From cell phones to social media, below are three schools that have chosen to go with the flow of popular technology to turn the tide for education.”

Read full story (and it’s not just a problem in America!). The story forcuses on the use of Skype for language learning, the integration of mobile phones into the learning experience, and the use of Twitter… this one is particularly inspiring:

“Many universities have internal e-mail systems and message boards. But getting students to routinely check these systems for updates can be a chore. As a college teacher myself, my students have been required to participate in group message boards, which is a poor substitute for genuine intellectual curiosity. As a solution, Leicester University in the UK turned to Twitter, hoping that the popular micro-blogging technology would encourage collaboration outside of class. Students were provided with an iPod touch, given instructional materials, and told they had to make a few academic-related tweets a day. Soon, a thriving community grew, complete with @replies and hashtags flying back-and-forth between participants, tutors, and even members outside of the program. Additionally, the study has become an unexpected marketing boon for the university. The Association for Learning Technology noted in its newsletter:

“One year ago, a Twitter search for ‘University of Leicester’ revealed little of interest. More recent searches reveal a growing volume of conversation between existing students, often across institutional boundaries, and also from prospective students, commenting on perceptions of the University and Higher Education in general.”

The university was impressed by the experiment and has begun collaborating with teachers and staff to extend participation throughout the campus. Leicester University joins the growing ranks of major universities, such as M.I.T., that are preparing students with technological and cooperative skills essential to real-life scientific experimentation.”

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