|FAS Public Interest Report
The Journal of the Federation of American Scientists
Volume 56, Number 3
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The Learning Federation: Progress Reportby Kendra Bodnar
The explosive growth in information and the growing complexity of scientific and technology problems that need to be addressed require a dramatically new approach to how we teach, learn, and conduct research. Our Information Technologies project is working with national experts in academia, industry and government to articulate a national research plan and form communities of researchers to build the tools and infrastructure needed to enable radically improved approaches to teaching, learning, and sharing research. We've made measurable progress in a number of key areas.
Roadmaps for Learning Science and Technology Research and Development
After eighteen months of hard work, FAS staff have completed development of a Learning Science & Technology R&D roadmap, or research plan. A series of five roadmaps was developed. Each roadmap details how specific learning technologies could be designed and implemented into our teaching systems and forecasts what could be accomplished in the near future with appropriate funding. These roadmaps will facilitate efficient and effective use of the research funds by strategically prioritizing attention to gaps in the knowledge-base, encouraging interdisciplinary research that might otherwise be overlooked and coordinating research projects. Each component roadmap addresses a critical learning science and technology R&D focus area:
Instructional Design for New Technology-Enabled Approaches to Learning
Understanding how people learn, how experts organize information, and the skills of effective learners
Learner Modeling and Assessment
What to measure, when to measure and how to use the information
Question Generation and Answering Systems
How to take advantage of the benefits offered by emerging technologies to facilitate inquiry
Building Simulations and Virtual Environments
How to build complex virtual environments that accurately reflect current understanding of physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics that permit exploration-based pedagogy
Integration Tools for Building and Maintaining Advanced Learning Systems
Engineering strategies for using learning system tools to build learning systems
The component roadmaps were presented in a July Roadmap Integration Workshop conducted by the FAS at the Institute for Defense Analyses in Virginia. The workshop brought together many of the key authors and consultants who have worked on the roadmaps to discuss integration of the component roadmaps into a final research plan. These discussions led to beneficial feedback and ideas. Leaders in the fields of cognitive science, and information technology were in attendance, each having dedicated significant time and effort to develop these roadmaps.
The LS&T R&D Roadmap can play a critical role in shaping the national debate on the need for expanded learning technology research. It should be particularly valuable to Executive Agencies, Congress, and research institutions. The roadmaps are available on the website at (http://www.learningfederation.org/).
Major funding support for the roadmap developed was made possible through a Federal appropriation to the Federation of American Scientists for the Digital Opportunity Investment Trust. We also gratefully acknowledge the funding support of the organizations that helped sponsor this work and made possible the roadmap: Microsoft Research, National Science Foundation, Hewlett Packard, Department of Defense, DDR&E, Carnegie Corporation of New York, and Hewlett Foundation.
SPECIAL EDITION OF THE ASSESSMENT JOURNAL FOR EDUCATION
The Learning Federation has been invited to co-edit a special issue of Education Assessment, an Erlbaum journal. Several presenters from the Learning Federation workshop on Learning Modeling and Assessment will be writing articles that discuss the research presented at the workshop, including: Student Modeling; Linking Cognitive Psychology and Assessment; Learnome - a framework that can be used to standardize and automate task analysis, assessment design and use; Assessment for Feedback; Technology Supported Assessment Design; Assessment practices to encourage transfer; and Affective Measurement in Technology Environments. Henry Kelly, President of FAS, and Randy Hinrichs, Group Research Manager for Learning Science and Technology group at Microsoft Research, will write the preface for these articles. The edition will make an important contribution to the field of educational technology and we are thankful to all the contributors. The date of publication will be posted on our website.
A REPORT TO CONGRESS
The Federation of American Scientists and the Digital Opportunity Investment Trust (DO IT) are partnered together to revamp learning technologies in the humanities and sciences. DO IT and FAS have made great progress in being granted a hearing on 'Digital Dividends and Other Proposals to Leverage Investment in Technology' which will be held in the House of Representative's Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet in this Congress. The hearing had originally been scheduled for September 3rd but has been postponed temporarily. Witnesses from a variety of fields utilizing digitalization and technology for educational purposes will testify. Please keep on eye on our website or the Digital Promise website (http://www.digitalpromise.org/) for more details.
The FAS also worked with the Digital Promise Project to write a report to Congress entitled 'The Digital Opportunity Investment Trust: Transforming Rural and Urban Education, Learning and Training.' It outlines the essential need for changing our traditional education system by integrating technologies designed for learning. The report will inform our legislators about what learning technologies are and their potential to make learning more engaging, more productive and more accessible to all Americans. This report shows the necessity for the digitization of our Nation's resources in museums and libraries. FAS, the Learning Federation and the Digital Promise Project have brought together a wealth of information pertaining to how learning technologies could revitalize learning in a variety of fields such as humanities, science, medicine, and manufacturing. Exemplars of our latest learning and digitized systems are reported. The report addresses every age group- K-12, higher education, workforce training, and lifetime learning. It is a useful and timely report for so many difficult fields and seeks to have enormous ramification on education policy in our nation. We expect the report to be published later this autumn.
NEW WEBSITE - A TECHNOLOGY AT ITS BEST
To coincide with the publication of the Learning Federation's LS&T R&D Roadmap, FAS has launched a new Learning Federation website! The website will provide easier access to information on previous and upcoming events and important timely news and reports about educational technology. The 'updates' section will alert you to future events that The Learning Federation is participating in; our 'news' section will help to keep you up to speed on the events of the Ed Tech field and policies or politics related to this field; in addition the 'what you can do' section will tell you about relevant events or legislation and how you can take action. The special report section will archive all of the critical reports from The Learning Federation, our workshops, other documents that are important to learning technologies, and our other projects. One of the most exciting and eagerly awaited features is the 'discussion boards'. This part of our website will provide an electronic forum for communication between anyone who is interesting in our project. Participants may interact with some of the major players in this field and can watch hotly debated topics be played out electronically. Please log on and voice your opinion and expertise (http://www.thelearningfederation.org/).
Author's note: Kendra Bodnar is the new manager of the Learning Technologies Project at FAS.