Sep 172008
 
Authors: Tyler Okland

CSU and Poudre School District officials corroborated Wednesday at the Lincoln Center to outline plans to emphasize innovative media outlets, which will replace current platforms that many say are inefficient, to teach college and high school students.

The “Building Bridges for Excellence” effort, sponsored by CSU’s Information Science and Technology Center, will begin in elementary schools and extend through students’ college educations.

Two local teachers from Poudre District schools and critically acclaimed author Howard Rheingold proposed the integration of computer technology to further the advancement of education at the meeting.

Jason Mallone, a philosophy and biology teacher at Poudre High School, said students have further developed their discussion and rhetorical skills as a result of his use of blogs as a teaching tool. Students are also maintaining an appropriate level of respect in their online debates, he said.

“We have created a student-centered learning environment where teachers often aren’t needed,” Mallone said.

Those involved in the effort agreed that Blackboard, a program currently in use by RamCT, has its limitations due its inability to facilitate interactivity.

Rheingold, who authored “Smart Mobs” and teaches digital journalism at Stanford and Berkeley, prepared a video discussing alternatives to programs such as Blackboard.

Rheingold intends to create a social media classroom to teach Interactive Web resources such as blogs, wikis, RSS, podcasts and video, according to his Web site.

The project intends to use social media as a means to efficiently allow students to communicate with each other via an online forum.

For CSU students, this may mean future classes will incorporate additional hands-on media and require supplementary technological understanding as a prerequisite.

Michelle Pearson, a Fort Collins native and middle school teacher at Hulstrom Options School, advocated innovative teaching in the classroom with technologically advanced learning tools and hands-on media.

Pearson’s middle school students created a podcast last year titled “20 Miles of Colfax History.” The podcast was programmed with stories about the history of Colfax for runners of the annual Colfax Marathon to listen to during the race.

The students’ success with the project is a mark of the technological achievements that teachers now say students as young as middle school are now capable of.

The implementation of technologies such as Rheingold’s social classroom may revolutionize higher-level learning, the teachers said they believe. Such programs expedite student and faculty communication online.

Staff writer Tyler Okland can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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