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Technology has always had a place in the halls of education to help create and demonstrate the lessons being taught. As new technology and devices have been invented, they have quickly found their way into educational facilities to help aid the learning process. The first practical telescopes came into being in the early 17th Century and were soon a necessary tool for astronomy students. The teaching of chemistry has been greatly enhanced by use of the Bunsen burner created in the 1850's. Only a few decades later, the typewriter changed education forever with a faster means to produce easily read instruction. Within just a few decades of their becoming publicly accessible, computers have become the premiere teaching tool of the 21st Century.
The types of technology used in classrooms are as varied as the subjects being taught. As new knowledge builds upon older learning, a plethora of technological devices have been added to the arsenal of education. Of necessity, a great deal of these are only practical at a college level as people increase their knowledge of a selected field. In primary and secondary educational facilities, the use of technology is increasingly focused on computers and the various add-ons created for them.
In the last half of the 20th Century, the simple overhead projector was a staple in classrooms and conference rooms across the country. The ability to enlarge images for projection on a wall or movie screen helped educators show examples to an entire room of students. As computer imagery and technology has taken over, the overhead projector has been abandoned for clearer images and greater interactivity. Now educators have the option of using a large monitor, image projection systems, or document cameras to do the job better.
Of greatest use in the classroom of today is the use of computers to access the Internet. Educators are still exploring new ways to use this wealth of information for more ways to increase the learning potential for their students. Being able to research any given topic is only the beginning. It is possible for a teacher to have lessons connected to each child's computer so they can follow along on their screens what the teacher is demonstrating on theirs. Information can be stored more safely in a digital form than on paper. Encyclopedias and other reference books no longer need to be bulky paper items, as online reference sources can be more comprehensive and interactive.
Audio and video can be integrated with computer technology so that students can create and share the projects they are working on. With the wide variety of functions that can be performed on computers, teachers are sometimes more like coaches helping direct students to knowledge rather than being the lecturers and presenters of the lessons. Through Internet connections, more classroom instruction can be channeled to the student wherever they are. Entire classes can be taught over the Internet. As the computer technology grows for classroom work, there may be less need even for the actual classroom.