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New National Research Center for Ed Tech

Congress recently approved a $500,000 appropriation, provided through the U.S. Department of Education, to launch the National Center for Research in Advanced Information and Digital Technologies, which was established in 2008 under amendments added to the Higher Education Act of 1965.

The center aims to provide grants and contracts for research and development projects that explore the way advanced technologies can support learning in K-12 and higher education, as well as government and corporate training. The center hopes to do for education what the National Science Foundation or the National Institutes of Health do for their respective fields, says Lawrence K. Grossman, the former president of NBC News and PBS, and a principal leader of the Digital Promise project, which is working with the Department of Education to launch the new national center.

Although the center is partially funded through the federal government, it will be an independent, nonprofit organization run by a board of directors selected by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, says Grossman. To bolster support for the national center, Digital Promise has already created three prototypes of the kinds of projects that the center hopes to fund, two of which are aimed at K-12 students: Immune Attack, an educational video game to teach biology, and Discovering Babylon, another educational video game that focuses on Mesopotamian history.

When I spoke with him, Grossman said that although games and simulations will likely play a significant role in the projects that the center will support, that is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of technology's educational potential.

To read more about the center, check out a press release about the launch here. The Digital Promise Web site also has lots of information about the center, including a detailed management plan as well as a "research and development roadmap" for the center.

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