Information technology (IT) provides immediate access to original source
materials and data. Interactive educational materials, simulations
and modeling of complex phenomena are available as never
before. IT also provides continuous real-time assessment
of student performance. Learners of all ages have access
to knowledge any time and practically anywhere. Technology
has helped build and enhance individual models of student
learning, knowledge and capabilities.
IT often enhances traditional
classroom instruction but does not replace it. The technology is more
often used at home or in locations like libraries, coffee
shops and informal science centers or museums. NSF research
into IT and the use of technology in education
is designed to support both classroom and out-of-school learning.
For example, NSF has supported the development of a theory
of computer-mediated learning combined with technology development
that has been deployed in 46 cities and used by more than
100,000 students. Another project traces the development
of simulation and modeling software that supports science
inquiry learning from course materials in genetics, physics
and other sciences.
While access to IT has grown by leaps and
bounds in the nation's schools, major challenges remain
regarding access by students in different demographic groups,
teachers' preparation and use of technology in classrooms,
lack of scheduled time for students' use of computers,
lack of instructional software and outdated computers systems
(ref., NSF Science and Engineering Indicators, 2004).
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