Would Dangerous Minds and Dead Poets' Society have been different if the curriculum was like the one proposed in a draft this week - introducing web 2.0, blogs and twitter?

Sir Jim Rose, the former Ofsted chief, has suggested that children should be fluent with Wikipedia, twitter, blogging and podcasts, while cutting down on history.

Dead Poets Society might have been less moving if, instead of reciting Whitman's "O captain! My captain!" standing on desks, the students of the 21st century had tweeted their salute to Robin Williams' sacking.

Slowly, the internet is invading schools, and this draft to the curriculum is the most recent example of how the web is entering the classroom.

Useful change?

"We are told to encourage kids to blog, so they can assess their own work. said Philippa Bellis, 22, who is currently training on a PGCE course to become a primary school teacher.

"We also use Wikibooks. These are child-friendly and you can create our own page for other schools to use - it's great for sharing ideas. Also, podcasts encourage international thinking, and help students to appreciate how they do things differently in other schools."

A PGCE document shown to The Impressionist, titled Social Networking, is full of links to websites and blogs that the teachers are encouraged to show to students.

But a 26-year-old teacher at a Catholic School in Surrey raises some concerns. "I don't know how many teachers would be able to teach those skills," he said to The Impressionist.

"That is the way the world is going – but I think it will seriously erode standards of literacy. And I'm not convinced that many of the older teachers would have the confidence."

A positive view

An ICT coordinator and teacher at a School in Bristol had a rosier view of Web 2.0 entering the classroom.

"It won't hasten a worsening in literacy," he said. "We can still teach them grammar and spelling as well as blogging. Those that would have fallen behind still will, and those who would have excelled will still excel."

He add that they use emails to communicate with students, but it's been difficult to find the time to integrate other media.

However, he does not see blogging as having a necessarily negative effect. "It would be a good thing. To them, it would be another formof writing."

Mike Kowalski, a music teacher, commented that Spotify, the new free music-streaming website, is a helpful tool during lessons.

"I use it to play music examples in the classroom. It's amazing how it just instantly plays and skips on... saves loads of time. Plus there so much music on it across all genres."

The disjointed future

While some have complained of the little time to respond to the proposed changes, others have given very positive views.

There will be no more rummaging around through stock rooms to find that CD, or ordering books and waiting weeks for their arrival.

Instant resources, will be readily available, exposing children to a wider variety of cultures and media.

James Harkin suggested in the Observer last week that audiences can now keep track of fragmented movies like Mulholland Drive and Memento because they are more used to non-linear storylines thanks to the internet.

What this mindset could bring to the next generation of students and composers, writers and artists remains to be seen.

While tweeting may never replace the pleasure of actually quoting a poem, it can definitely lend more exposure to those verses and link like-minded students in the pursuit of their curricular interests.

Photo by: A.Otto &  C. Iwunze
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Twitter goes to primary school

By: Alberto Furlan