NET NEWS: Techno Trends

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Science  10 Jul 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5374, pp. 139
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5374.139a

Although nearly two-thirds of U.S. schools were plugged into the Internet by 1996, access meant more to some students than to others. According to a new National Science Foundation (NSF) report released last week, schools in communities that are heavily minority and economically disadvantaged provide significantly fewer wired classrooms than do those in wealthier and whiter neighborhoods.

The Internet has become so much a daily part of our lives that it's now even being tracked by NSF, which for the first time has included a chapter on information technology in its biennial Science and Engineering Indicators. The 800-page 1998 edition cites one pooled analysis of studies finding that students in kindergarten through grade six who use PCs gain as much as half a school year on achievement tests compared to kids who don't—although the report dutifully notes that it's hard to compare the cost-effectiveness of computers to other kinds of teaching. Internet questions were also added to a regular survey of public scientific and technology understanding, showing that 27% of Americans have access to the Web and that many use it to look up science and health info. To read the report on the Web, go to

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