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Advanced Technology Program Opens New Competition For Projects In Learning Technologies

The Commerce Department's Advanced Technology Program today opened a new competition for funding to develop broadly enabling, technically challenging new approaches to creating systems for network-based instruction. The new ATP focused program in Adaptive Learning Systems will help support high-risk R&D by industry to develop new infrastructure technologies based on information networks such as the World Wide Web. The competition follows up on an announcement Saturday by Vice President Al Gore highlighting several new and expanded initiatives in education technology.

Secretary of Commerce William M. Daley predicted that the new ATP effort ultimately would put powerful tools for developing interactive instructional software in the hands of educators and other content specialists. "As earlier technologies gave instructional authors first the typewriter and then the word-processor, we expect this program to give them the tools to develop and disseminate reliable, high-quality instructional software while allowing them to concentrate on the educational content and not the programming," said Daley. "We want to make interactive educational materials more affordable, available and precisely tailored to the needs of both learners and educators without the need for custom software design."

The future "adaptive learning systems" envisioned by the new program will reduce the cost of producing and disseminating educational materials, improve instructional effectiveness and workplace productivity, and make training and learning more accessible than ever before.

Managed by the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Advanced Technology Program provides funding on a cost-shared basis with industry to carry out research and development on high-risk, high-payoff emerging and enabling technologies. The program concentrates on those technologies that offer significant, broad-based benefits to the nation’s economy but that are not likely to be developed in a timely fashion without the ATP’s support because of the technical risks involved. The subjects of the ATP research projects are proposed by industry. Awards are made on the basis of announced competitions that consider the technical and business merits of the proposed projects.

ATP focused programs, established in response to specific suggestions from industry and academia, identify specific sets of research and business goals that require the parallel development of a suite of interlocking R&D projects.

The new program in Adaptive Learning Systems will support research on enabling technologies for flexible, network-based (including web-based) learning systems:

  • intelligent authoring systems to reduce the cost and time to develop educational content, including the adaptation and re-use of existing material;
  • knowledge management and interface technologies to improve the delivery of instructional content, when and where needed, in the most useful form; and
  • large-scale modular components, instructional frameworks and middleware to support a highly useable, reliable networked learning environment needed for training and education.

The program will emphasize comprehensive infrastructure solutions that are both flexible and scalable with respect to all fundamental aspects of information network-based instruction.

The ATP has previously announced eight other competitions for 1998, including a general competition (open to proposals from all areas of technology) and seven focused program competitions in Catalysis and Biocatalysis Technology, Digital Video in Information Networks, Microelectronics Manufacturing Infrastructure, Photonics Manufacturing, Premium Power, Selective-Membrane Platforms, and Tools for DNA Diagnostics.

The competition announcement for the ATP program in Adaptive Learning Systems with additional details appears in today's on-line issue of Commerce Business Daily. Optional pre-proposals are due by 3 p.m. Eastern time on March 11. The deadline for full proposals in this competition is 3 p.m. Eastern time, Wednesday,May 13.

NIST will host public Proposers' Conferences on Feb. 19 at the San Jose Hilton in San Jose, Calif., and on March 4 at the NIST laboratories in Gaithersburg, Md., to provide general information on the Adaptive Learning Systems competition, the selection process, and ATP rules and procedures for potential proposers who may be unfamiliar with the program. Proposers are not required to attend these meetings.

To register for one of the meetings or to obtain further information on the Advanced Technology Program, including copies of the new ATP Proposal Preparation Kit (dated December 1997), ATP Federal Register notices and the competition announcement, contact the ATP by sending email to atp [at] (atp[at]nist[dot]gov), by calling 1-800-ATP-FUND (1-800-287-3863), or by faxing a request to (301) 926-9524 or (301) 590-3053. You also may consult the ATP World Wide Web site at

As a non-regulatory agency of the Commerce Department's Technology Administration, NIST promotes U.S. economic growth by working with industry to develop and apply technology, measurements and standards.

Released February 2, 1998, Updated November 27, 2017