Britannica Holds Online Forum on Classroom Technologies

Are the new technologies that fill today's classrooms a bane or a boon to learning? That's the question a panel of experts will tackle in "Brave New Classroom 2.0," a forum taking place this week at the Encyclopaedia Britannica blog ( The forum will explore the effects of PCs, laptops, whiteboards, the Internet, PowerPoint and other technologies in classrooms at all levels, from grade school to graduate school.

"Many of these technologies were once thought of as educational aides for the library and the home," said Theodore Pappas, an executive editor at Britannica. "Today they're moving into the classroom rapidly, with uncertain consequences for teaching and learning. Some educators are thrilled by these developments, some are wary and many haven't decided. We'll try to help everyone make sense of it all."

Bloggers will discuss a range of issues related to educational technology, including the new emphasis on project learning and collaboration, the changing roles of student and teacher, the effect of technology on authority in the classroom and the cognitive implications of multitasking.

The first posts in the forum appear today: "A Vision of Students Today (& What Teachers Must Do)," by Michael Wesch, an anthropologist at Kansas State University and a member of Britannica's editorial board; and "Turned On, Plugged In, Online, & Dumb: Student Failure Despite the Techno Revolution," by Emory University professor Mark Bauerlein.

Contributors who will post later in the week include Steve Hargadon, founder of the Classroom 2.0 social network; cognitive psychologist Dan Willingham; and David Cole, a Georgetown University law professor who has banned laptops from his lectures.

A panel of educational technology journalists will also respond to the posts in what Pappas hopes will be a lively and ongoing discussion. Members of the public are welcome to add their own comments.