ILS Funding Discussion

Justifying Dollars for Diplomas:
Questions to Consider

THOUGH researchers at the Institute for the Learning Sciences and other facilities are leaders in educational and information technology, one must wonder whether such research is cost effective. Prototypes for the Broadcast News and CoVis Projects require tens of thousand of working hours to produce and perfect. The total research dollars, as well as the various video and multimedia tools necessary for the operation of each system, add up to tens of thousand of dollars per system, the rough equivalent of a single small computer lab in one school. Can school districts afford to purchase a multimedia system with limited pedagogical uses? Very few can, let alone purchase the dedicated PRI lines necessary to run the systems. Supporters of this research respond by saying as the educational information infrastructure falls into place, more and more schools will be interested in interactive multimedia packages; economies of scale will drive prices to more affordable levels. But what until then? ILS is clearly paving the path for education technology of the not-too-distant future, but if schools must wait until that glorious day of low cost, transparent digital networking comes along, what do we do with the hundreds of thousands of kids who don't have the luxury of learning with interactive multimedia?

How are researchers considering the question of cost effectiveness in education technology development?
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