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DELTA 2 Review Board report

The report of the Review Board on "Information technologies and telecommunications technologies applied to education and training" examines DELTA, Community research and technological development in the domain of flexible and distance learning (FDL), Area 4 of the specific pro...
The report of the Review Board on "Information technologies and telecommunications technologies applied to education and training" examines DELTA, Community research and technological development in the domain of flexible and distance learning (FDL), Area 4 of the specific programme of RTD in the field of telematic systems in areas of general interest (1991-1994).

Meetings of the Board took place during the period March-May 1993. Its conclusions are intended to provide strategic level input into the overall ("mid-term") review of the Telematics programme.

The report is divided into four chapters covering:
- The rationale for RTD in flexible and distance learning;
- Current action in this area under the Third Framework Programme;
- The main mission for future RTD action in this domain, defining target groups and scope;
- Recommendations on future RTD action under the Fourth Framework Programme, considering the options for its implementation

In general, the Board notes the positive conclusions of the Board of Technical Auditors with respect to the progress and results of the programme to date and additionally recognizes DELTA's positive effect in widening interest and promoting research in technology-based learning in and between Member States. The programme has made a substantial contribution to FDL opportunities across Europe.

With regard to future guidelines, the Board considers that DELTA's mission should be to develop and test technologies which improve access to and efficiency of education and training. Future RTD actions should be embedded in a more global context of putting research into practice through experiments, development and pilot applications projects.

In the above context, the implementation of large-scale demonstration projects, to operate as testbeds for transnational technology-based learning, is recommended. This, plus the commitment to respond more directly to user needs would provide a basis for addressing issues arising from the application of technology support learning. Technologies should be tested within real-life education and training environments. In addition, a number of complementary measures should be undertaken to diffuse the learning services to a wider public.

To achieve these aims, the Review Board defines four interlinked areas of research and development actions:

- Research on integrated infrastructures for lifelong learning (the enabling of a Europe-wide decentralized network service infrastructure, in essence the establishment of a testbed facility in the form of a network of networks to provide for decentralized access through regional nodes, functioning as a clearing house on the lines of a brokerage model);

- Learning applications and systems (RTD on components of information technology and telecommunications-based learning environments, and interaction with these technology-based media);

- Basic longer-term research for the year 2000 and beyond. An ancillary objective is to develop further visions on the learning network for the future. Further research is required in customized and embedded learning, services for mobile learners, trials of broadband learning services and virtual presence applications together with research on interactive and immersive learning.

- Measures for diffusion and implementation strategies to ensure that the results of research are disseminated to a wide audience and to create an awareness of the potential the new technologies offer in education and training (in particular the establishment of demonstration centres within the nodes of existing and emerging infrastructures).

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