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EDUCOM: Books, Classes on the Web; Internet2 in Development
James Lichtenberg -- 11/17/97
The ongoing, blossoming relationship between technology and higher education drew 2700 attendees to Minneapolis for the 1997 annual meeting of EDUCOM, a consortium of 600 institutions and corporations. But rather than technology per se, EDUCOM has zer d in on the technologies of instructional software and the transition of instructional material from books to multimedia and the Internet.
There are two quite different approaches. The first, under the aegis of EDUCOM's National Learning Information Infrastructure (which is supported by various corporations, including the publisher ITP), is an attempt to develop common standards of technology and pedagogy through academic/corporate alliances. The group acknowledges that some colleges might not survive the arrival of such universal, technology-based courseware.

The second approach, reflected by the initiatives of publisher/exhibitors like Harcourt Brace, McGraw-Hill, Merriam-Webster and Simon &Schuster/Prentice Hall, follows a "let the marketplace sort it out" strategy. While the economic luster of higher-education publishing may have dimmed over the past decade, its recent efforts to develop Net-linked product represents a leading edge for publishing in general.

Increasingly central to all publishers' activities is both a recognition of the power of the Web interface and of the need for alliances with technology companies in order to deliver content effectively.

Harcourt's recent multimedia acquisition, Archipelago, is working to create complete, multimedia, introductory college courses for the Saunders College Publishing unit. For personal and academic use, the online and CD-ROM dictionaries from Merriam-Webster include a range of features, such as spoken pronunciation, color visuals and thesaurus-type capabilities.

Newly named senior v-p and general manager, distance learning, Pat Leonard, from S&S's Higher Education Group, is pursuing "solution selling." Meeting with academics, Leonard ascertains the mix of technology a department or professor for a given distance-learning course would like to employ. Prominent at the conference, moreover, were progress reports and demonstrations of Internet2, a collaborative project to develop the next generation of high-speed Internet environment. This second-generation Internet is now under development by 100 universities in partnership with government and a group of high-tech companies. To learn more about the initiative, point your browser to http://www.internet2.edu.
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