CLASSROOM SALON: The "Sound of Silence" may be a pretty dreary song but it's even drearier when silence rules during class "discussion" time. (We've all taken seminars before.) At Carnegie Mellon, a team of educators in the English and compsci departments came up with Classroom Salon, an online platform that allows students and teachers to collaboratively discuss, critique, and markup class reading materials. Instructors get to see class participation analytics in a dashboard. The benefits? Online participation, done in the comfort and privacy of students' own time, often whets their appetites for actual in-class participation. (Better for the less-vocal, shyer folks as well.) Here's a video of teachers who have used Classroom Salon in middle school and graduate level courses. The salon has been piloted with McGraw-Hill and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (funded by a Gates Foundation Next Generation Learning Grant)> Now its developers have opened up the beta and would love to get some feedback. Register at the website with the code "cmu" (no quotes) to try it out.