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Congress Gives Boost to High Tech Learning in the Classroom

Congress has given the go-ahead for a new center to explore ways advanced computer and communications technologies can improve learning. It is called the National Center for Research in Advanced Information and Digital Technologies and it will focus on "bringing education into the 21st century."

The bill, sponsored by Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Congressman John Yarmuth of Kentucky, is aimed at giving students the tools they need to maintain and build upon in the 21st century.

The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) said, "The creativity that developed extraordinary new information technologies has not focused on finding ways to make learning more compelling, more personal and more productive in our nation's schools...People assumed that the explosion of innovation in information tools in business and service industries would automatically move into classrooms." That, the Federation said, has simply not happened. "Today's generation is very comfortable with using tools like iPods and computers and gaming, but when they go into the classroom none of that is there and there is this sense of an opportunity we are just not grasping," said a spokesperson for the FAS.

The center will support a 'first of its kind' comprehensive research and development program aimed at improving all levels of learning from kindergarten to university and from government training to college. The center will award grants for research on a series of questions it will pose ranging from the "low hanging fruit variety" to deeper issues. Some $50m has been earmarked for the center which, it is hoped, will be up and running in a year's time.

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