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Educational Technology: Not Just Computers

This is the VOA Special English Education Report, from http://voaspecialenglish.com We received a question from a listener about how American schools use educational technology. There is not a simple answer. It depends on the subject and level of students, of course. But it also depends on the interest and training of the teachers, and the goals and budgets of the schools. Schools are almost all connected to the Internet. But some have more technology, and use it more, than others. For example, some schools use computers for activities like video conferencing, to bring the world into the classroom. And some classrooms are equipped with things like a Smart Board, a kind of interactive whiteboard. Interactive whiteboards are large displays for presentations. They connect to a computer and can operate by touch. They can be used for documents or writing or to project video. Some teachers are trying creative new ways to teach with devices like iPods and mobile phones. But educators say the most important thing, as always, is the content. Yet technology can have special importance in some cases. Cosmobot is a therapy robot. It stands about half a meter tall and has a blue body and a friendly face with big eyes. One child who works with it is six-year-old Kevin Fitzgerald. Kevin has developmental dyspraxia; he has difficulty moving his mouth and tongue. He works with Carole Semango-Sprouse as he uses a set of buttons attached to a computer. He can make the silent robot move forward, backward or around in circles. Kevin's mother thinks the robot has had a calming influence, helping her son get along better with his friends. Cosmobot was developed by AnthroTronix. Corinna Lathan started the company ten years ago to work with children with cerebral palsy, Down's syndrome, autism and other developmental disabilities. Children become friends with the robot, she says. That can have a big effect on their behavior, helping them work harder and longer in therapy sessions. Corinna Lathan is currently working with a British company to develop other socially assistive robots. She says they are still considered research tools in the United States. They are not used as much as in places like Britain and Japan. But she hopes to change that. And that's the VOA Special English Education Report. You can comment on our reports at our Web site, voaspecialenglish.com. (Adapted from a radio program broadcast 17Dec2009)
Length: 04:00

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