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Community action (EEC) in the field of learning technologies (DELTA) - Exploratory action, 1988-1990

Part of the Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (1987-1991) under subactivity 2.3.: "New services of common interest (including transport)", this first DELTA programme was based on the following considerations:
- The potential contribution of IT&T advances (including personal computing, satellite broadcasting, video, telecommunications and artificial intelligence) to education and training;
- The opportunity to develop, by cooperation between IT&T scientists and the training professions , leading-edge products saleable on world markets;
- Further opportunities for the Community IT&T sector;
- Economies of scale due to the high degree to which basic learning requirements are common to all Member States.

As a short-term (2 year) exploratory action, DELTA concentrated on improving the IT&T environment for the development of teaching materials and their transfer from author to end user.
To stimulate R&D in new technology, particularly information technology and telecommunications (IT&T), in support of advanced, especially non-classroom, distance learning.
Five activities:

- Learning systems research:
Development of a Learning System Reference Model (LSRM) to assist in planning and design but also to facilitate management of the system. The construction of this model involves identifying the principal components of the learning system;

- Collaborative development of advanced learning technology:
In collaboration with the IT&T industry in the Community (including publishers and universities), the progressive design of systems and equipment to support multi-media learning at Community level;

- Testing and validation:
Integrating communications, their testing and validation. This activity also involves preparing the introduction of a shared-resource Satellite-based Open Facility for Testing (SOFT);

- Standardization and Protocols for Open Systems Interconnection (OSI):
Equipment and learning systems must function in interconnectivity. A new group of users of standards will therefore be constituted to identify standards and to lend organizational support to standardization in the learning field;

- Investigation of related factors:
Creating favourable conditions for the application of advanced learning technologies. These include fiscal treatment, regulatory conditions, telecommunications policy and copyright and authors' rights.
Implementation was monitored by the Commission assisted by a Committee composed of two representatives of each Member State and chaired by a Commission representative. A draft workplan defining the detailed objectives, the type of projects and activities to be undertaken and the corresponding financial plans was been drawn up by the Commission.

The proposals for projects were, as a rule, submitted in reply to an open invitation to tender. Each project involved at least two independent partners from a minimum of two Member States. One partner at least was an industrial undertaking and at least one other represented training or learning interests. Projects could include organizations and enterprises from non-Community European countries with which framework agreements for scientific and technical cooperation have been concluded.

Projects took the form of shared-cost contracts. The Community covered up to 50% of total expenditure or, where universities and research institutes were involved, up to 100% of the marginal costs.

The Commission, after consulting the Delta Committee, defined procedures (including rules on confidentiality) for the exchange of information between Member States, the Commission and suppliers.

A report on the results achieved during the first 12 months of implementation was submitted by the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council. A final report was submitted to these same bodies upon completion of the programme.