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National Science Foundation
Education - An Overview of NSF Research
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Photo, caption follows:

A student works with plastic to make a mold for a machine part in the CNC (Computer Numeric Control) lab at Muscatine Community College, Muscatine, Iowa.
Credit: Muscatine Community College, Advanced Technology Environmental Education Center

How Does Technology Affect Learning? 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of technology in classrooms, lack of scheduled time for students' use of computers, lack of instructional software and outdated computers systems (ref., NSF Science and Engineering Indicators, 2004).

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