Education Technology Research and Development Initiative Approved by the House
WASHINGTON -- On 7 February 2008, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to approve the Higher Education authorization bill that includes a provision for creating a National Center for Learning Science and Technology Trust Fund. This not-for profit center, which will receive both appropriated funds and support from private sources, will “support precompetitive basic and applied research, development, demonstrations, and assessments of prototypes of innovative digital learning and information technologies as well as the components and tools needed to create them.”
FAS is deeply grateful for the leadership of Congressmen Yarmuth, Regula, Kennedy, Markey, Pickering and many others. They recognized the importance of this research and exercised the leadership needed to make it a reality. FAS and the Digital Promise project have worked together closely for several years to encourage the kinds of research authorized in this legislation.
Simulations, software capable of tailoring responses to individual users, user created web content, and many other tools have led to productivity gains in the U.S. economy. Game designers have managed to find ways to focus users’ attention for hours while they try to acquire the skills and information needed to achieve their complex objectives. The U.S. military and many corporations are making use of these tools to improve the way they deliver training. The nation’s education system, however, has been slow to adopt them.
The blunt fact is that it is not easy to develop new instructional systems using these powerful technologies. Private investors have found it difficult to justify the kinds of deep, sustained, long-term research needed to discover how best to use them. The research supported by this bill will change that. By bringing together experts in educational theory, teachers, computer scientists, game designers, subject matter experts, and many others the bill has the power to drive dramatic improvements in the nation’s educational system – improvements that will be celebrated by teachers, parents – and most importantly the students themselves.
The House bill will now go to conference with the Senate, where many members have indicated their strong support.