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Four Grants Will Help FAS Learning Federation Test Games to Improve Learning
Thanks to generous new support from four federal funding organizations, the FAS Learning Federation will begin developing some of the new approaches to learning called for in its national vision. Grant awards totaling $2.4 million over three years have been announced (August 2005).
International Investment in Educational Technology R&D
A survey of investment in seven countries, including the United States and the European Union, analyzes the features of government-funded programs in educational technology R&D. Our study sets a baseline for analysis of investment priorities and trends.
Emergency Training Systems: A Survey
The FAS Learning Federation made the first major survey of emergency training products, including hundreds released since 9-11. We analyzed 54 Computer - Based Training (CBT) offerings and described how many have features that help learning, according tothe results of cognitive science.

Four Grants Will Help FAS Learning Federation

Test Games to Improve Learning

Contact: LearningTech@fas.org 
Last modified : August 11, 2005 3:00 PM

Thanks to generous new support from four federal funding organizations, the FAS Learning Federation will begin developing some of the new approaches to learning called for in its national vision. Grant awards totaling $2.4 million over three years have been provided by: the National Science Foundation, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Health and Human Services (Centers for Disease Control) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The funds will support development of three 'games.' Each will engage the student in a series of challenges in a virtual environment that can adapt to the learner's individual needs. Each game project aims at different learners - elementary school students, adolescents, and adult workers. They will test the approach for three different subjects: strategies for responding to terrorist attacks, the science of immunology, the culture and mathematics of ancient Mesopotamia.

"These projects will jumpstart the Learning Federation's implementation of the research plan we developed with our partners over the past two years," says Kay Howell, who manages FAS' Learning Federation project. The plan lays out key problems to be studied and timelines for progress and is known as the Road Maps. The Road Maps can guide a nationwide response to the crisis of underachievement in US schools and to our workforce's need for frequent retraining if we are to prosper in the 21st century. The three projects will help FAS and its partners address some of the key challenges laid out in the Road Maps.

Discover Babylon will show how digitized library and museum collections can be combined to provide rich learning experiences. Set in ancient Mesopotamia, players will let students solve puzzles and challenges by exploring the art, culture, and science of this ancient world in a historically accurate virtual environment that will include 3D images of real objects from collections. The Institute for Library and Museum Services will support initial work on the game.

The Immune Attack project will teach young adults about the human immune system via a game that uses stunning, realistic 3-D visualizations and simulations that faithfully represent human biology. It will involve biologists, disease specialists and computer scientists. The National Science Foundation will support work on the prototype.

The Mass Casualty Incident Response instructional game will be developed in collaboration with the New York City Fire Department, and will train over 2,000 first responders. This project is supported by a highly competitive Technology Opportunities Program (TOP) award from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration of the Department of Commerce and by the Centers for Disease Control.

The potential of games for learning is becoming widely recognized. The $7 billion dollar video game industry is becoming interested in educational games, an area the military pioneered with pilot training simulations.

"We are delighted that the federal government has made such a strong commitment to pursuing research that leaders in cognitive science and information technology agree can revolutionize how we communicate complex ideas," says Henry Kelly, FAS President. "People are willing to master an enormous amount of information to win games. If we succeed, they'll be pestering their teachers and friends and reading up on complex subjects like biology in order to win.

"The Learning Federation's research Road Maps suggests that huge gains are possible. They also show that success will require sustained investment. We're delighted that these federal agencies have given FAS an opportunity to move forward on one of the nation's most pressing research problems."

The mission of the FAS is to focus the energies of US scientists and engineers on issues of critical national importance. Through its Learning Federation project, the FAS is trying to assure that the United States does not miss this historic opportunity to take advantage of emerging information and communications technologies to solve the crisis of student underachievement and an underskilled workforce.

Contact : LearningTech@fas.org
Last modified : August 11, 2005 2:59 PM

No one knows how much of the $6 to $8 billion spent on emergency preparedness since 9-11 has gone for training of first responders. William O. Jenkins of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) says this is because the largest grants "can generally be used for planning, equipment purchases, training, and exercises, at the discretion of the grant recipient."

For instance just 14 out of 198 federal terrorism training courses use Computer Based Training (CBT) or what the Learning Federation calls Technology Enabled Learning Systems (TELS).* From many hundreds of additional training products located in an initial search, we analyzed 54 for who funds them, who purchases them, the emergency responder groups targeted, and the training product's features.

Emergency
New York City firefighters and U.S. Marines practicing in a live exercise at the Fire Academy on Randall's Island, New York Oct. 24, 2003. The number of practice exercises available on CD-ROM and over the Internet is growing. (Photo: Ed Bailey / AP)

We conclude that the quality of many government-funded training products is unknown, saying:

"DHS has not communicated a clear plan for quality control of the training material or ensuring that material is continuously up-to-date. There is no coherent program for managing the development, certification, and distribution of training materials in place today....Given the importance of ensuring well-trained first responders, DHS should include learning science and technology R&D as a critical component of its S&T portfolio."

Read the entire survey here:  Training Systems

* TELS encompasses a wider range of digital learning activities than Computer-Based Training (CBT), from slide shows, such as PowerPoint presentations delivered on CD-Rom or via the Internet, to learning systems that incorporate advanced computer technologies such as virtual reality and intelligent tutors.

FAS Training Project for Multi Casualty Incident Response Wins Grant from CDC
Contact : LearningTech@fas.org
Last modified : September 21, 2004 4:28 PM
Tuesday, September 21, 2004
[Washington, DC - September 21] 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has awarded FAS a grant to begin development of a prototype training system using advanced learning technologies to prepare fire fighters to respond to major emergencies.

"Our work for the CDC will form the essential building blocks for a larger scale, multi-year effort," said Michelle Roper, Information Technologies Manager at FAS. "The project ultimately seeks to capture advances in learning science and information technology to improve the caliber and scope of emergency response training nationwide." This effort is part of FAS' Training Technology Against Terror Project that calls for a national strategy to use advanced technology to help ensure that the training systems put in place today to meet immediate training needs can continuously improve over the next coming years.

In its 2002 report, Training Technology against Terror: Using Advanced Technology to Prepare America's Emergency Medical Personnel and First Responders for a WMD Attack, FAS warns that even with adequate funding, current WMD training programs are inadequate to the task. WMD training demands are dramatically larger in scope and more complex than anything the nation has faced before. Millions of civilian and military medical personnel need to be trained quickly to respond to mass casualty incidents and have continuous access to refresher courses (including "just in time" training during an emergency). The report urges federal leadership to speed the introduction of new information and training technologies to build training systems that can reach first responders quickly with timely information. It calls for training to be tailored to local situations, and for simulated experiences that will raise levels of performance in an actual emergency.

"This is a very exciting milestone for FAS, our Learning Federation project and our partners," said Kay Howell, Vice President of FAS. "The CDC grant is a step towards our vision of a national program to support the research described in our Research Roadmaps ". The roadmaps have been developed with input from nearly 100 experts in learning science and technology. They describe a national research program to develop software tools to enable radically improved ways to teach and learn, including tools for continuous assessment, question and answering systems that stimulate learning, and individualized delivery of content to motivate learners by making the content relevant.

For additional information, please contact LearningTech@fas.org.

  
International Investment in Educational Technology R&D
Contact : LearningTech@fas.org
Last modified : August 11, 2005 2:59 PM

A survey of investment in seven countries, including the United States and the European Union, analyzes the features of government-funded programs in educational technology R&D. Our study sets a baseline for analysis of investment priorities and trends.

The full report can be found here:  International Review of R&D Priorities and Funding.