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Specific programme of research and technological development (EEC) in the field of telematic systems in areas of general interest - Flexible and distance learning (DELTA) -, 1990-1994

Part of the specific programme of research and technological development in the field of telematic systems in areas of general interest (1990-1994) under Area 4: "Flexible and distance learning (DELTA)", this second phase of the DELTA programme represents both a consolidation and development of the results obtained during the two-year exploratory phase (DELTA I, 1988-1990) and a necessary change of emphasis towards implementation of telematics-based flexible and distance learning. Pilot experiments, more networking, evaluation and market orientation are the key elements of this new approach.

The programme will concentrate on providing opportunities for interoperability between national systems and on defining standards, architectures and functional specifications. The R&D on technologies encompasses areas from advanced production and design workstations to specific tools on hypermedia and multimedia to the advanced features of distance education using telecommunications, such as virtual classroom situations, enabling full interactivity between the users regardless of their actual location. Two new concepts will emerge, a Common Training Architecture and a network architecture for telecommunications based learning services.

Synergy will be sought with other areas of research within the Framework programme, in particular with the research on information and communication (ESPRIT, RACE), and close cooperation will be established with other Community programmes dealing with training (COMETT, EUROTECNET).
To improve the performance of and access to learning services in Europe based on the optimum use of telematic systems in terms of flexibility, interactivity, remote access and user support, and to improve the market competitiveness of the training industry in terms of more effective services and learning materials, better economies of scale, and an evolutionary market strategy.
Three interdependent parts:

- Strategies for the use of technologies, telematic systems and services and contribution to the definition of common functional specifications:
Emphasis on the development of production methods for multimedia educational materials which are portable and transferable between various systems with the prospect of transnational use, including remote assistance and help procedures for the various categories of users;

- Development of systems and technologies:
Work related to the technologies required to obtain a telematic service for local and distance learning which is flexible, effective, modular and interoperable;

- Experiments on the validation and integration of services:
Experiments in the real environment to allow testing of the value added by interconnecting the various systems using new technologies for education, information and user assistance.
The Commission is responsible for the implementation of the programme, which comprises research and technological development (RTD) projects, accompanying measures and concerted actions.

The projects are the subject of shared-cost contracts, with Community financial participation not normally exceeding 50%. Universities and other research centres have the option of requesting, for each project, either 50% funding of total expenditure or 100% funding of the additional marginal costs. Contracts relating to shared-cost research projects must as a general rule be concluded following a selection procedure based on calls for proposals published in the Official Journal of the European Communities. Projects must, as a general rule, provide for the participation of at least two partners, each independent of the other, established in different Member States.

The Commission is authorized to negotiate, in accordance with Article 130n of the Treaty, international agreements with third countries which are members of COST, in particular the member countries of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, with a view to associating them with the whole programme or a part of it. Where framework agreements for scientific and technical cooperation have been concluded between the Community and European non-Member States, bodies and enterprises established in those countries may, on the basis of the criterion of mutual benefit, be allowed to become partners in a project undertaken within the programme.

No contracting body based outside the Community and participating as a partner in a project undertaken within the programme may benefit from Community financing for this programme. The body concerned shall contribute to the general administrative costs.