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INNOVATION; New Tools- Blogs, Podcasts and Virtual Classrooms

THE ''Room 208'' podcast may just have the youngest production staff in the history of broadcasting, being written, produced and performed entirely by the third and fourth graders in Bob Sprankle's class at the Wells Elementary School in Wells, Maine. The podcast, an online radio show that can be downloaded to an MP3 player, began in April, and has 171 subscribers for its weekly 20- to 30-minute shows that include regular features like ''Student News,'' ''The Week in Sports'' and ''Word of the Week.''

''In building this product weekly, the kids are incredibly motivated to read, research, write, and they're telling me they can't wait to get to school,'' Mr. Sprankle said recently in an interview. Mr. Sprankle's experiment with podcasting in the classroom is just one of the interactive technologies some pioneering teachers are using in schools nationwide.

Still, some educators are not completely sold on the value of interactivity. ''If interactivity becomes the fundamental basis of the educational process, how do we judge merit?'' asked Robbie McClintock, a learning technologies expert at Teachers College of Columbia University.

This article, written by Ethan-Todras Whitehill, appeared in the August 3rd edition of The New York Times.

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