Information & Communication
Education Training Software
- Military training
- Multi-media authoring tools
Software for education and training permits a wide variety of learning modes, from repetitive drill with an infinitely patient computer to advanced simulations and "virtual realities" that allow users to immerse themselves in, and interact with, rich environments representing aspects of the world with which they wish to become more familiar or more skilled.
Examples of education and training software might be simple games to teach arithmetic or typing; information retrieval software for accessing large databases of relevant information; commercially available simulations such as SimCity; or just software that lets teachers, students, tutors, and resource experts exchange electronic mail or "chat" regarding homework assignments, schedules, useful peer-provided information, etc.
The lifelong education and training of U.S. citizens is vital to our economic and social health. If relevant information can be accessed by people where and when they need it, in order to improve job skills or political/social awareness, the entire U.S. economy benefits. With decreasing trade barriers, the U.S. niche in the world economy will increasingly involve high-technology, information-intensive jobs, continuing access to education and training software is vital to keep the U.S. at the forefront of new services, technologies, and manufacturing techniques.
U.S. defense forces conduct perhaps the most intensive education and training programs anywhere under one authority. They have tremendous need for continual training programs in advanced weapon systems, obtaining and retaining pilot skills, and thousands of other skilled jobs and tasks. Much of this training now involves live bullets, tanks, ships, and planes--at great taxpayer expense. If a significant portion of this training can be replaced with software creating sufficiently realistic conditions for effective learning, there is the potential for greatly reduced expense and improved training (for example, because alternatives can be explored that would be excessively dangerous or costly in real life). Recent initiatives in distributed interactive simulations via networks and the Defense Simulation Network show promise in this area.