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FAS Public Interest Report
The Journal of the Federation of American Scientists
January/February 2001
Volume 54, Number 1
FAS Home | Download PDF | PIR Archive
Front Page
Low-Yield Earth-Penetrating Nuclear Weapons
A Faith-Based Science Policy?
FAS Welcomes Sherman to Staff
R&D A Priority For FAS Newest Project
Defense Export "Reforms" Revisited
FAS Obtains First Bush Presidential Directive

R&D A Priority For FAS Newest Project

By Marianne Bakia

FAS's new Learning Technology Project is off to a running start. Our mission is to encourage the research and development needed to ensure that advances in computers, communication, and other information technologies make learning more productive, more accessible, and more fun for people of all ages. We are working to strengthen the community of scholars interested in R&D of educational technologies. This includes gathering information on worldwide R&D efforts in learning technology and making it available on our website ( should be up and running soon). Project information will include descriptions, funding levels, and contact information. Both the inter-institutional relationships and knowledge developed through such a project will be used to forge new alliances and improve sharing of information in a nascent field where researchers often feel isolated. This work is made possible by a grant from the Spencer Foundation.

We are also working to encourage greater public funding in learning technology research. Research investment in this critical field is tiny compared with the size and importance of the education enterprise. We are working in close collaboration with other organizations to start the Learning Federation* (a government-industry partnership in learning research) and the Digital Opportunity Investment Trust (a proposed resource for providing public support of the development of educational and cultural materials that could be delivered over new communication networks).

A key task has been to develop a prioritized research agenda, or "road map," for research that would create revolutionary new ways of using technology to learn science, math, engineering, and technology education at the post-secondary level. This research would define the challenges that must be overcome to build compelling, effective and efficient learning systems using advanced information technologies and introduce new ways to evaluate them. Under NSF sponsorship, we invited thirty of the world's most prominent educational technology leaders to a workshop focused on this project. A summary of our conclusions is available on the FAS website.

If you have any questions, comments, or would like to get involved in these evolving activities, please don't hesitate to contact Marianne Bakia, Director, Learning Technologies Project at [email protected].

*More information can be found at