Iowa working on statewide distance learning

Iowa's Office of Information Technology Services is seeking information on ways to use emerging technologies to expand distance learning to state residents.

"What we want to do is create an environment that's an extension of our Iowa Communications Network, which is a fiber-optic network for distance learning that's available to our state universities, communality colleges and K-12 school districts," said Darrell Fremont, multimedia courseware specialist for ITS. "This would be another type of learning infrastructure that brings distance learning opportunities to citizens and students at their desktops when they're at home, or in public libraries."

The state's requests for information focus on four main components: multimedia storage, production, conferencing and distribution.

"The RFIs are for vendors and educators so we can get an idea of what they'd like to see the system include, from things that are currently available, or maybe not available yet," Fremont said. "Technologies that aren't public knowledge yet and are in development — that's the kind of information we'd like to get as we're working toward a [formal] request for proposal."

Fremont said vendors, educators and the community will be able to submit comments online, beginning Feb. 14 and running through at least mid-March. He said the project will most likely take about five years to complete, and the goal is to begin working on the RFP by this fall.

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