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									  Chapter 1

Information technology Is proving to be invaluable to people of all ages
                                                                                 Chapter 1


   Modern society is undergoing profound           large degree, by these technological develop-
technological and social changes brought           ments, they must adapt through education
about by what has been called the information      and training. Already there is evidence of
revolution. This revolution is characterized by    demands for new types of education and train-
explosive developments in electronic informa-      ing, and of new institutions emerging to fill
tion technologies and by their integration into    these demands. The historical relationship be-
complex information systems that span the          tween education and Government will be af-
globe. The impacts of this revolution affect in-   fected by the role that Government plays in
dividuals, institutions, and governments–al-       enabling educational institutions to respond
tering what they do, how they do it, and how       to the changes created by these technologies.
they relate to one another.
  If individuals are to thrive economically and
socially in a world that will be shaped, to a

  Historically, the Federal Government’s in-
terest in educational technology has been spo-
radic—rising as some promising new technol-
ogy appeared and falling as that technology
failed to achieve its promise. Attention was
focused, moreover, on the technology itself
and not on the broader educational environ-
ment in which it was to be used. In the late
1960’s, for example, the Federal Government
funded a number of research and development
(R&D) projects in the use of computer-assisted
instruction (CAI). Interest in the projects
waned, however, given the high costs of hard-
ware and curricula and the failure to integrate
computer-based teaching methods into the in-
stitutional structure of the school.
  Over the last decade, Federal funding for
R&D in educational information technology
has dropped precipitously. At the same time,
development and applications of information
technology have advanced rapidly in many
sectors. Public schools, beset by problems that
such technology might mitigate, have lagged
behind in adapting to technological changes.
In view of this situation, OTA was asked in
October 1980 to reexamine the potential role
of new information technology in education.

4 . Informational Technology and Its Impact on American Education

The assessment was initiated at the request                 clude communication systems such as direct
of: 1) the Subcommittee on Select Education                 broadcast satellite, two-way interactive cable,
of the House Committee on Education and                     low-power broadcasting, computers (including
Labor; and 2) the House Subcommittee o n S c i -            personal computers and the new hand-held
ence, Research, and Technology of the Com-                  computers), and television (including video
mittee on Science and Technology.                           disks and video tape cassettes).
   This report examines both the demands the                  The assessment was premised on three ini-
information revolution will make on education               tial observations and assumptions:
and the opportunities afforded to respond to                        The United States is undergoing an infor-
those demands. Included in its scope are a                          mation revolution, as documented in an
survey of the major providers of education and                      OTA assessment, Computer-Based Na-
training, both traditional and new, and an ex-                      tional Information Systems.
amination of their changing roles. The full                         There is a public perception that the pub-
range of new information products and serv-
                                                                    lic schools are “in trouble,” and are not
ices rather than any single technology is exam-                     responding well to the normal educational
ined, since the major impact on education will                      demands being placed on them. Public
most likely stem from the integration of these
                                                                    schools in many parts of the country are
technologies into instructional systems.                            faced with severe economic problems in
   For this report OTA has defined education                        the form of rapidly rising costs and re-
to include programs provided through a vari-                        duced taxpayer support. These pressures
ety of institutions and in a variety of settings,                   are forcing a new search for ways to im-
including public schools; private, nonprofit in-                    prove the productivity and effectiveness
stitutions that operate on the elementary, sec-                     of schooling.
ondary, and postsecondary levels; proprietary                       A host of new information technology
schools; training and education by industry                         products and services that appeared capa-
and labor unions; instruction through the mili-                     ble of fulfilling the educational promises
tary; and services provided through libraries                       anticipated earlier are entering the mar-
and museums or delivered directly to the                            ketplace with affordably low cost and
home. Information technology is defined to in-                      easy accessibility.

 OTA found that the real situation is far                      q    Information technology is already begin-
more complex than assumed above. In sum-                            ning to play an important role in provid-
mary, the assessment’s findings are:                                ing education and training in some sec-
   The growing use of information technol-                          tors.
   ogy throughout society is creating major                   q     Information technology holds significant
   new demands for education and training                           promise as a mechanism for responding
   in the United States and is increasing the                       to the education and training needs of so-
   potential economic and social penalty for                        ciety, and it will likely become a major
   not responding to those demands.                                 vehicle for doing so in the next few dec-
   The information revolution is creating                           ades.
   new stresses on many societal institu-                     q     Much remains to be learned about the
   tions, particularly those such as public                         educational and psychological effects of
   schools and libraries that traditionally                         technological approaches to instruction.
   have borne the major responsibility for                          Not enough experience has been gained
   providing education and other public in-                         with the new information technology to
   formation services.                                              determine completely how that technol-
                                                                                       Ch. l—Summary     q   5
                                                  .— —

    ogy can most benefit learners or to predict          major national effort, whether federally
    possible negative effects of its use. Given          inspired or not, to introduce these new
    this insufficient experience, caution                technologies into education.
    should be exercised in undertaking any

                       The Information Society
        Role of Information                         manufacturing, and service—some now have
                                                    begun to define and explore a fourth, the infor-
  For the foreseeable future, information tech-     mation sector. One analysis has shown that
nology will continue to undergo revolutionary       this new sector, if defined broadly, already ac-
changes. The microprocessor-an inexpensive,         counts for over 60 percent of the economic ac-
mass-produced computer on a chip-will be-           tivity of the United States.
come ubiquitous in the home and office—not
only in the easily identifiable form of the per-       Many firms involved directly with informa-
sonal computer or word processor, but also as       tion are large and growing. Two of the largest
a component of numerous other products,             corporations in the world, AT&T and IBM,
from automobiles to washing machines and            principally manufacture information products
thermostats. High-speed, low-cost communi-
cation links will be available in such forms as
two-way interactive cable, direct broadcast
from satellites, and computer-enhanced tele-
phone networks. New video technologies such
as video disks and high-resolution television
will be available. These technologies will be in-
tegrated to form new and unexpected types
of information products and services, such as
videotex and on-line information retrieval sys-
tems that can be provided over telephone or
air waves directly to the home.
  It is impossible to predict which of these
technologies and services will succeed in the
competition for consumer dollars, or which will
appeal to particular markets. It is, however,
reasonable to conclude that they will radical-
ly affect many aspects of the way society gen-
erates, obtains, uses, and disseminates infor-
mation in work and leisure.
   The growing importance of information it-
self drives and is driven by these rapid tech-
nological changes. Until a few decades ago, the
information industry—that industry directly
involved with producing and selling informa-
tion and information technology-was rela-
tively small in economic terms. It is now be-
coming a major component of the U.S. econ-
omy. While most economists still talk about         Personal-type computers are used for instruction in many
the traditional economic sectors—extractive,                    classrooms throughout the Nation
6   q   Informational Technology and Its Impact on American Education

and provide information services. Moreover,                       Digital Telephone Network.—The shift to
business in general is beginning to treat infor-                digital transmission will allow telephone lines
mation as a factor of production that takes its                 to carry more information at higher speed and
place beside the conventional factors of land,                  with greater accuracy, providing better link-
labor, and capital. In addition, the Govern-                    age of information between computer termi-
ment is beginning to treat information as an                    nals.
important element of national security. While
defense officials have always been concerned                       Broadcast Technologies.—Some distribu-
about the disclosure of military information—                   tion technologies in the entertainment market
such as troop movements or weapons design                       may also have important potential educational
—they are now also concerned about the inter-                   uses. For one, the direct broadcast satellite can
national leakage of more general U.S. scientif-                 transmit a program directly to a home or of-
ic and technical information that other coun-                   fice, bypassing a cable system. For another,
tries could conceivably use to pursue economic                  low-power stations, which restrict transmis-
or military goals that are in contrast to our                   sion to a limited geographical range, provide
own.                                                            a low entry cost to licensees and are subject
                                                                to less regulation than are traditional broad-
   In addition to serving as an economic good,                  cast stations.
access to information is becoming increasingly
important for individuals to function in soci-                     Computers. —The design and uses of com-
ety effectively as citizens, consumers, and par-                puters have advanced to the point where there
ticipants in political processes. Relations with                is now a mass consumer market for computers
government at all levels are becoming more                      and computer software. Moreover, networks
complex—whether they involve dealing with                       that link privately owned computers have ex-
the Internal Revenue Service, applying for                      panded access to information. Desktop com-
social benefits and services, or seeking protec-                puters are becoming more common in the
tion from real or perceived bureaucratic abuse.                 home, the small business, and formal educa-
Individuals are confronted with the need to                     tional settings. The use of hand-held com-
evaluate more sophisticated choices and to                      puters, cheaper and more portable than desk-
understand their rights and responsibilities                    top computers, has also increased. Along with
under the laws and regulations intended to                      computer development have come advances in
protect them in the marketplace.                                the interface between humans and computers
                                                                —input/output technology. Input technology
        Information            Technologies                     is the process of putting information into the
                                                                computer—either by typing it, speaking to the
  The rapid evolution of the following tech-
                                                                computer, or showing the computer pictures.
nologies in the last few decades has shaped the
                                                                Developments in output technology are occur-
information revolution:
                                                                ring in the areas of low-cost printers, graphics
  Cable.–Cable systems–wherein data and                         (particularly color graphics), and voice.
programs are transmitted over a wire rather
than through airwaves-are growing rapidly.                        Storage Technology. —Data programs are
The newer systems offer more channels, and                      stored on a variety of media for use in the com-
some offer two-way communication.                               puter: silicon chips, floppy disks, and hard
                                                                disks. Improvements are being made in such
  Satellite Communication.—Satellites have                      technology for both large and small comput-
stimulated development of new types of tele-                    ers.
vision networks to serve cable subscribers and
earth station owners with specialized program-                   Video Technology.–Significant develop-
ing.                                                            ments in several areas of video technology are
                                                                                  Ch. l—Summary   q   7

likely in this decade. Video cassette recorders     Banks, on the other hand, are beginning to
are already important consumer devices. The         compete with computer service bureaus in pro-
filmless camera, which combines video and           viding more general on-line information serv-
computer technology to “write” a picture on         ices to businesses and homes.
a very small, reusable floppy disk, may soon
                                                       The U.S. Postal Service, along with Con-
be available.
                                                    gress and a variety of Federal executive and
   Video Disks.— Resembling a phonograph            regulatory agencies, is considering the degree
record, a disk that stores television program-      to which it should compete with private tele-
ing is of considerable interest to educators. It    communications firms in the provision of elec-
is durable, inexpensive to produce, and capable     tronic mail services. Large computer firms
of storing a large amount of data and pro-          such as IBM are moving toward direct com-
grams.                                              petition with traditional telecommunication
                                                    common carriers such as AT&T for the provi-
   Information Services. -Several of the afore-
                                                    sion of information. Telephone companies may
mentioned information technologies are now
                                                    offer “electronic yellow pages” that could rival
being integrated to provide new types of serv-
                                                    the classified advertising business of news-
ices. For example, several countries now use
the existing television broadcast medium to
bring information services to homes and of-            Those institutions principally concerned
fices. Using a teletext system, the user can        with the collection, storage, or transfer of in-
select a page for special viewing as it is trans-   formation will feel the greatest effects. They
mitted in segments over the air. In a videotex      include both private sector firms—in fields
system the user can preselect a page from the       such as publishing, entertainment, and com-
central system for immediate viewing. Close-        munications—and public or nonprofit organi-
ly related to videotex are the information net-     zations such as libraries, museums, and
works that provide owners of desktop com-           schools. How they handle their product—in-
puters and terminals with access to computer        formation–may differ from the handling of
and data services and to one another over com-      tangible goods by other institutions because
munication networks. Through electronic con-        information has characteristics that differen-
ferencing, geographically separated individu-       tiate it from tangible goods. For example, in-
als can participate in meetings. Variations in-     formation can be reproduced easily and rela-
clude audio conferencing, which uses telephone      tively inexpensively. It can be transported in-
lines; video conferencing, which supplements        stantly worldwide and presumably can be
the voice connection with television images;        transferred without affecting its original own-
and computer conferencing, which involves           ership. Thus, copyright or other forms of pro-
transmitting messages through a central com-        tection for intellectual property—data bases,
puter that then distributes them as requested.      programs, or chip designs-is important to the
                                                    growth of the information industry.
    Impacts on Institutions
                                                       While the business of selling information
   Impacts from the information revolution are      has always existed in some form–e.g., book
being felt by government at all levels and by       publishing, newspapers, or broadcasting–the
the military, industry, labor unions, and non-      growth of this sector and its movement into
profit service institutions. Traditional services   electronic forms of publishing will create con-
provided by these institutions now overlap in       flicts with traditional societal attitudes about
new ways and offer a wide variety of new serv-      information. The concept of information as a
ices based on information technology. For ex-       public good whose free exchange is basic to
ample, firms as diverse as investment houses        the functioning of society is inherent in the
and retail stores now compete with banks by         first amendment to the Constitution and un-
providing a variety of financial services.          derlies the establishment of public libraries

8   q   Informational Technology and Its Impact on American Education

and schools. This concept conflicts with the                    the service professions, such as law and med-
market view of information, which recognizes                    icine, will be transformed.
that there are inherent costs in the provision
                                                                   While some sociologists suggest that the ef-
of information. Adopting new information
                                                                fect will be to “deskill” labor by lowering the
technologies will entail extra costs that must
                                                                skill requirements for workers, more anticipate
be borne somehow by the users of those tech-
                                                                that a greater premium will be placed on lit-
                                                                eracy, particularly technological and informa-
   The conflict between the view of information                 tion literacy. The latter argue that an increas-
as a market good and the view of it as a “pub-                  ing number of jobs will be in the information
lic good” affects public institutions in a num-                 sector or will require the use of information
ber of ways. Public nonprofit institutions find                 systems. Moreover, new forms of production
themselves increasingly in competition with                     and information handling will create new jobs
private profitmaking firms that offer the same                  requiring new skills. Vocational education and
or similar services. Institutions such as librar-               industrial training programs will be needed to
ies, schools, and museums are beginning to feel                 teach the skills for jobs such as robot mainte-
pressure to incorporate both nonprofit and in-                  nance or word processing.
come-generating offerings in their own mix of
                                                                  An advanced information society will place
services. To the extent that previously free or
                                                                a premium on skills oriented toward the crea-
very low-cost and widely available information
                                                                tion of new knowledge and the design of new
services such as education move into the pri-
                                                                technologies. Thus, while there is some current
vate marketplace, access to them may become
                                                                debate about a possible surplus of college
limited, either because of their cost or because
                                                                graduates, generally speaking many experts
of their restricted technological availability.
                                                                see a growing gap between the demand and
Periodicals previously available at news-
                                                                supply of graduates in engineering and sci-
stands, for example, may be available in the
                                                                ence, and particularly in computer engineer-
future only via computer or video disk.
                                                                ing and science.
        New Needs      for Education                               A key element in all of these educational
                   and Training                                 needs is that they will constantly change. In
                                                                a rapidly advancing technological society, it
   The information revolution places new de-
                                                                is unlikely that the skills and information base
mands on individuals, changing what they
                                                                needed for initial employment will be those
must know and what skills they must have to
                                                                needed for the same job a few years later. Life-
participate fully in modem society. It may also
                                                                long retraining is expected to become the norm
be increasing the social and economic prices
                                                                for many people.
that will be paid by those who do not adapt
to technological changes. For instance,                         Case Studies on Information
spurred by increasing domestic and interna-
tional economic competition, U.S. industry is
expected to adopt computer-based automation                       In addition to using existing information for
in a major way. Computer-aided design, robot-                   this assessment, OTA undertook case studies
ics, and other new computer-based manufac-                      designed to gain insights into the successful
turing technologies will, within the next                       application of information technology in edu-
decade, transform the way goods are manu-                       cation. Accordingly, OTA examined well-
factured. Automation will not be restricted to                  established programs in public school sys-
the factory, however. Office automation will,                   tems, industries, libraries, museums, the mili-
according to some, have an even more revolu-                    tary, special education, and direct to the home
tionary effect on management and on clerical                    markets nationwide. These case studies are
work in business. Over the longer term, even                    presented in the appendix. Many of the find-
                                                                             —— .

                                                                                   Ch. l—Summary   q   9

ings presented in this assessment reflect ob-       formation technology to improve the ability
servations made in these studies. The most          of foreign students and the physically and
important of these observations is that infor-      mentally handicapped to communicate.
mation technologies can be most effectively
applied to tasks when they are well integrated         Some experts suggest that the use of com-
in their institutional environments.                puters by students teaches them new ways of
                                                    thinking and new ways of solving problems
                                                    that may be more appropriate in an informa-
                                                    tion age. They suggest that a generation that
Potential     Technological         Solutions
                                                    grows up with computers will have a signifi-
   OTA found little evidence of current hard-       cant intellectual advantage over one that does
ware limitations that would limit the applica-      not. Many educators criticize such a view as
bility of technology to education and, hence,       being too technology-centered. At the very
call for major research efforts. Continuing         least one can predict, however, that computer
research in the general fields of computer          and computer-based information services will
science and engineering, coupled with innova-       be ubiquitous by the next century, and that
tive private sector development will provide        learning how to use them effectively is a basic
the necessary hardware base. The only excep-        skill that will be required for many and per-
tion is the area of technology for the handi-       haps most jobs. (In response to this view of
capped, where it is not clear that the opportu-     future skill requirements, many schools have
nities for developing specialized technology        placed a high priority on computer literacy as
could be met without some Federal support           the first instructional use of the computer.)
for R&D. There does appear to be a need, how-
                                                       Although experience with educational tech-
ever, for R&D focused on developing new tech-
                                                    nologies has demonstrated that they offer a
niques and tools for software development,
                                                    variety of potential benefits, it has also dem-
human/machine interface, and improving the
                                                    onstrated that technology cannot, by itself,
understanding of cognitive learning processes.
                                                    provide solutions to all educational problems,
   If properly employed, information technol-       nor should it be imposed on an educational
ogy has certain characteristics that suggest        system without sensitivity to institutional and
it will be invaluable for education. For one, in-   societal barriers that could prevent the realiza-
formation technology may be the only feasi-         tion of educational benefits. These barriers in-
ble way to supplement teaching capability in        clude:
schools faced with reduced teaching staffs and
larger class sizes. For another, information           Institutional Barriers.--New educational
technology is capable of distributing education     technology must be designed for ease of inte-
and training, both geographically and over          gration into the schools and other educational
time. Services can be provided in the home,         institutions that will use it. Some adaptations
at work, in a hospital, or in any other location    of curricula, schedules, and classroom organi-
where and when they may be needed.                  zation will be needed, but the changes are not
                                                    likely to be extreme.
   Many of the electronic media, such as video
disks or microcomputers, allow learners to use        Teacher Training. –Widespread use of tech-
them at their convenience, instead of being         nology in the classroom will require that teach-
locked into specifically scheduled times. Com-      ers be trained both in its use and in the pro-
puter-based analysis, combined with a flexi-        duction of good curriculum materials. Too few
ble, adaptive instructional system could diag-      teachers are so qualified today. Schools main-
nose and immediately respond to differences         tain that they are already faced with a short-
in learning strategies among students and,          age of qualified science and mathematics
hence, could be more educationally effective.       teachers (those most likely to lead the way in
Finally, much work has been done on using in-       computer-based education). Furthermore,
10   q   Informational Technology and Its Impact on American Education

there is little evidence that most of the teacher               —e.g., copyright, patents—for their informa-
training colleges in the United States are pro-                 tion products as a barrier to investment in
viding adequate instruction to new teachers                     development.
in the use of information technology.
                                                                   Skepticism About Long-Term Effects.–
   Lack of Adequate Software.--OTA found                        Some educators are seriously concerned that
general widespread agreement that, with few                     the long-term effects on learning of substitut-
exceptions, the quality of educational soft-                    ing technology for traditional teaching meth-
ware-curriculum material designed for educa-                    ods are not sufficiently understood. While
tional technology-now available was, in gen-                    acknowledging that computers or other tech-
eral, not very good. Curriculum providers do                    nologies may have some limited utility in the
not yet use the new media to full advantage                     classroom for drill and practice, or for instruc-
for several reasons. In the first place, many                   tion in computer literacy, they fear that any
of the technologies are still new. It takes time                widespread adoption of technology for educa-
to learn how to use them, and the early at-                     tion could have deleterious effects on the over-
tempts suffer from this learning process. Sec-                  all quality of learning.
ond, production of high-quality educational
software is expensive. Some large firms that                       Cost.–Even though the cost of computer
                                                                hardware and communication services is drop-
have the necessary capital to produce educa-
                                                                ping, investment in educational technology
tional software hesitate to risk developmen-
                                                                still represents a substantial commitment by
tal money in a relatively new and uncertain
                                                                financially pressed schools. Costs of software
                                                                are likely to remain high until a large market
   Third, the programmers and curriculum ex-                    develops over which providers can write off
perts qualified to produce educational soft-                    developmental costs. In some cases the cost
ware are in short supply. Finally, some firms                   of information products and services may be
cite the lack of adequate property protection                   passed on to users for the first time.

                            Policy Issues and Options
                         Issues                                       response to these national needs would be
                                                                      both appropriate and effective.
  The impact of information technology on                         q   Redressing inequities: In both the OTA
education will confront Congress with a num-
                                                                      study on national information systems
ber of important policy decisions in several
                                                                      and in this assessment, OTA found con-
                                                                      cern that a significant social, economic,
     q   Education and training for economic                          and political gap could develop between
         growth: OTA found that trends in auto-                       those who do and those who do not have
          mation and the growth of the information                    access to, and the ability to use, informa-
          sector of the economy will probably pre-                    tion systems. People who cannot make ef-
          sent the United States with severe man-                     fective use of information technology may
          power training problems over the next                       find themselves unable to deal effective-
          decade. These will include a persistent                     ly with their government and to obtain
          shortage of highly trained computer scien-                  and hold a job. Both social and economic
          tists, engineers, and other specialists; a                  concerns may motivate Congress to take
         need for retraining workers displaced by                     action to improve literacy in American so-
          factory and office automation; and a need                   ciety.
         for a more technologically literate work                 q   New institutional roles: OTA found that
         force. Congress must decide what Federal                     many public educational institutions are
                                                                                 Ch. l—Summary   q   11

       under severe strain, to the extent that          current educational use of technology was
       many question their survival-at least in         the lack of adequate educational software.
       their current form. Actions directly re-         There may be a role for the Government
       lated to the use of information technology       in reducing the risks software producers
       could also have important impacts on             currently see that inhibit major invest-
       these public educational institutions, both      ment in quality courseware (educational
       by enhancing their productivity and by           software). Many of the existing successful
       helping them offer a modern, computer-           packages, such as the Sesame Street pro-
       and communication-based curriculum. Al-          grams for television and the PLATO com-
       though the States have primary responsi-         puter-aided instruction system, were de-
       bility for control of the public schools,        veloped with partial Federal support. On
       decisions and policies set at the Federal        the other hand, good software may be
       level have influenced the nature of pub-         forthcoming if the producers see a suffi-
       lic education and will continue to do so.        cient quantity of hardware in the schools
                                                        to provide them with a viable market.
    Options for Federal Action                        –Directly fund technology acquisition by
                                                        the schools: The Federal Government
   Assuming that Congress decides there is a            could directly underwrite the acquisition
significant need for Federal action to address          of hardware and software by the schools.
these issues, there are a number of possible ac-        Such a program would create a market for
tions it could take.                                    educational products that would attract
q   Direct Intervention.— Congress could take           producers, and it would accelerate the in-
     action to increase and improve the use of          troduction of technology into the schools.
     information technology in education. Most          On the other hand, such an approach may
     of the following options would principally         promote premature and unwise purchases
     affect the schools. A few would have a             of technology by schools that are unpre-
     broader effect on the provision of education       pared to use the technology effectively.
     and training in other institutions.                It is also counter to some current trends
     –Provide tax incentives for donations of           and attitudes in Congress concerning the
       computers and other information technol-         proper Federal role in education.
       ogy: H.R. 5573 and S. 2281 are examples        –Provide support activities: The Federal
       of such initiatives. They are intended to        Government could assume a leadership
       accelerate the rate at which schools install     role in encouraging the educational sys-
       computer hardware and to respond to pos-         tem to make more effective use of infor-
       sible inequities in the abilities of school      mation technology by funding demonstra-
       districts to direct funds to equipment ac-       tion projects, teacher-training programs,
       quisition. However, some experts have            and the development of institutions for
       noted that the personal computer indus-          exchanging information about successful
       try is on the verge of moving to a new gen-      implementations. OTA found evidence of
       eration of more powerful machines that           a high degree of interest and motivation
       may have much greater potential for edu-         by both schools and parents that could be
       cational application on a more sophisti-         more effectively channeled with appropri-
       cated level. Donations of older equipment        ate Federal leadership. Such a program
       could freeze the schools into dependency         would not address the financial limita-
       on obsolescent systems. Moreover, such           tions that currently prevent many institu-
       incentives do not address problems such          tions from acquiring technology and soft-
       as the need for software, teacher training,      ware.
       or institutional barriers to effective use.    Adapt a General Education Policy.—Con-
     –Subsidize software development: O T A           gress is considering various forms of educa-
       found that the most-often cited barrier to     tion-related legislation that may affect, and
12   q   Informational Technology and Its Impact on American Education

     in turn maybe affected by, the new informa-                    age a combination of both by using Federal
     tional needs of society. Examples are bills                    funding to leverage private investment.
     concerning vocational education, veterans’                 q   Elimination of Unintended Regulatory Bar-
     education, education for the handicapped,                      riers.--Some legislation and regulation not
     and foreign language instruction. Such leg-                    specifically directed at education may create
     islation, if drafted with the intent to do so,                 barriers to the effective application of edu-
     could encourage the development of more                        cational technology. Telecommunication
     effective and economical technological alter-                  regulation, for example, can affect the cost
     natives to current programs.                                   of technology, access to communication
                                                                    channels, and the institutional structure of
q    Support R&D.–Federal civilian agency                           education providers.
     support of R&D in educational technology                          Moreover, protection of intellectual prop-
     has decreased substantially over the last                      erty, principally copyright law, was identi-
     decade. OTA found that, to make the most                       fied as a major determinant of the willing-
     effective use of technology, there was a need                  ness of industry to invest in educational
     for R&D in learning strategies and cognitive                   software. The current state of the law was
     development, methods for the production of                     seen by many industry experts as inade-
     effective and economical curricular soft-                      quate and, hence, as creating a barrier to the
     ware, and the long-term psychological and                      development of novel and innovative soft-
     cognitive impacts of technology-based edu-                     ware. However, to the extent that such a
     cation. Congress could consider policies to:                   barrier does exist, it is not clear whether its
     1) directly support R&D in these areas, 2)                     removal lies in new legislation or in the
     encourage private sector investment from                       gradual development of legal precedent in
     both foundations and industry, or 3) encour-                   the courts.

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