|FAS Public Interest Report
The Journal of the Federation of American Scientists
Volume 55, Number 1
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Learning Technology | Survey in International Investment in Ed Tech R&D Released
By Marianne Bakia
The Learning Technology Project released its first report, A Survey of International Investment in Educational Technology Research and Development, in late January. The report is a first of its kind analysis of government investment in educational technology research and development. It covered the US, Australia, Canada, European Union, Ireland, Japan, Korea, and South Africa. This information is an essential first step toward strengthening and coordinating learning research programs around the world.
The survey found that countries invest heavily in demonstration and implementation projects related to educational technology, but little is spent on reasearch. The US spends over $900 billion a year on education and training, and the worldwide investment is roughly $2 trillion. Worldwide investment in computers and communication services for education and training is $16 billion.
Despite the considerable public resources spent to acquire technology for educational institutions, and despite the extraordinary talents and dedication of the many teachers and software developers who have produced ingenious products that are already contributing to educational practices worldwide, a significant gap separates the educational technology now in use from the incredible potential offered by these technologies.
The study found that the US designated approximately $200 million to educational technology research and development in FY2000, although less than $40 million was invested for non-military applications. The survey also found that US research programs are scattered across many different agencies with little coordination. While the European Commission invested comparable levels of funding ($65 million), the programs are much better coordinated.
Australia has just begun an innovative, multi-million dollar program that essentially commissions the creation of interoperable, standardized content for Australian elementary and secondary schools. Beginning in 2001 and running until 2006, the goal is to generate high-quality, researched and evaluated, online curriculum content for Australia's schools. This government coordinated program features public-private partnerships and expects to reduce potential duplication, increase cost efficiencies, and stimulate market and private investment in educational technology development.
Electronic copies of the report as well as additional resources related to educational technology research and development can be found at http://fas.org/learn/intl_rev/index.htm. The study was funded by the Spencer Foundation.
Marianne Bakia is the Project Director of the FAS Learning Technologies Project, which encourages research and development 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.