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New technology in the ClassroomOne of the most common forms of technology that has become widely available to people all over the world is the computer, coupled with easy and instantaneous Internet access. In addition to using computers for everyday tasks, they have also proved very useful in school and classroom settings. In such an environment, possibilities for learning are expanded infinitely, and students are able to access information from around the globe. This is an incredible development for any classroom, but has specific advantages for the instruction of English by way of: allowing teachers to instantly download and use authentic materials in the classroom, updating lesson plans or outdated source books with the most recent version of activities and exercises, allowing access to reference tools such as online dictionaries and thesauri, and lastly- the opportunity for digital pen pals, whereby students can practice their English by communicating through e-mail with other groups of students in various countries. Another recently popular technology for classroom use is the interactive whiteboard. According to market research by Futuresource Consulting, one of every seven classrooms in the world will feature an interactive whiteboard by 2011. This integration of students and multimedia in classrooms follows the lifestyle trends of individuals and their ever-expanding relationship with technology. The interactive whiteboard promoters assert that their product keeps students more engaged and interested with lessons due to their interaction with the technology, and it seems difficult to argue against these claims. The interactive whiteboard allows instructors to instantly access electronic material, easily present that information and make adjustments and modification on the fly. In addition, the software on these products is very intuitive, allowing students with little prior knowledge of electronics to work on group projects or do other activities on the whiteboard. With the influx of technology into the classroom, there have also been a number of people questioning the necessity and effectiveness of such products. After all, education funding is often strained, and this technology does cost more than your traditional chalkboard or overhead projector. You really can?t blame people-especially those who grew up learning just fine without all these technological advancements- for wondering how effective these machines are in a classroom setting- especially since it?s their tax dollars being invested. For example, in January of last year, the U.S. state of New Hampshire received $3 million in federal stimulus funds to boost technology in the classroom. Obviously, after this made headlines, people wanted to make sure that this would be money well spent. Also, there are many critics who claim that these technologies only aid in the creation of the laziest generation in our history (the current youth who have grown up around technology their entire lives). Of the studies that have been done to investigate the efficacy of technology in the classroom, findings have been largely inconclusive. A study in the northeast U.S. state of Maine, revolving around their ambitious laptop program for students showed that, after a five-year period, 70 percent of students found that the laptops made work easier. During this time though, standardized test scores did not change much, but about 65 percent of students did perform better on their writing scores. The benefits and advantages of having various technologies in the classroom are nearly impossible to contest. However, choosing which technologies help our world?s future leaders to best learn and digest information is still undetermined. It does seem appropriate that available technology make its way into the classroom if there are important uses for it. However, more research is certainly needed to illustrate the positive effects these technologies have on learning. References: 1. ITTT Unit 17- Equipment and teaching aids 2. http://www.smartboards.com/pages/Education-Solutions.html 3. http://www.edweek.org/dd/articles/2007/09/12/02board.h01.html 4. http://www.eschoolnews.com/2011/07/19/panel-evolving-technology-has-great-classroom-potential/ 5. http://www.wmur.com/r/22304990/detail.html