A survey has shown that children and web-savvy parents class Web 2.0 services such as Wikipedia as the most useful classroom tools - although teachers' opinions are divided.
A recent poll of students, teachers and parents has shown that children feel confident with using interactive, user-driven Web applications such as Wikipedia, MySpace and YouTube in an educational context. However, a fifth of all of the teachers polled admitted that they felt out of depth and untrained in the practical application of these services - many simply seeing them as a distraction in the classroom.
Furthermore, concern among teachers about the amount of personal information that their students divulge online is turning them away from the services.
Commenting on the findings, Dave Alderson, Public Sector Specialist at ntl:Telewest Business (who carried out the survey) said: "Web 2.0 has really crept up on the school system as social networking sites, blogs and YouTube have become a global phenomenon in a relatively short space of time. Many of today's pupils live and breathe this technology, using applications such as instant messaging, Facebook, MySpace and Wikipedia every day to create content, communicate and collaborate with people worldwide. Whilst security is a valid concern, there are measures that can be put in place to address this."
"Schools and colleges need to ask themselves if they are living up to the expectations of the digital generation. The interactive and collaborative nature of Web 2.0 tools is ideal for engaging children in the classroom and nurtures the skills and enthusiasm they have developed at home."
It appears that the amount of time children spend using these services at home - and encouragement from Web-savvy parents - has led to their increased popularity during school hours. When children were asked which Web 2.0 tools would be useful at school:
44 per cent stated Wikipedia
35 per cent chose instant messaging
34 per cent said YouTube
"Our study reveals that there is a Web 2.0 chasm between the tools that children would like to see in the classroom and what teachers are actually using. The key to using these tools effectively though, is having the right infrastructure to deliver them," said Alderson.