IT, Information, Media

"Multimedia educational software" task force to develop priorities for research projects

On an initiative of Mrs. Cresson, Commissioner for research and development, Mr. Bangemann, Commissioner for industry, telecommunications and information technologies, and Mr. Kinnock, Commissioner for transport, the European Commission has set up six task forces to develop in...

On an initiative of Mrs. Cresson, Commissioner for research and development, Mr. Bangemann, Commissioner for industry, telecommunications and information technologies, and Mr. Kinnock, Commissioner for transport, the European Commission has set up six task forces to develop industrial common research projects in order to reinforce European competitiveness.

This article examines the task force which focuses on multimedia educational software:

In view of their enormous capacity to transmit and store information and to treat and disseminate it, information and communication technologies are capable of making radical changes to all aspects of life, economic, social and cultural. As was stressed at the G7 conference on the information society, organized by the European Commission in February, these technologies could make an enormous contribution to education and training.

Multimedia educational software is a fast-developing market on an international scale. At present, the sector is dominated by the Americans, who benefit from a powerful media industry in a large internal market. However, Europe has enormous resources in this field and real creative potential. As far as the multimedia market is concerned, the Europeans are represented by a few large groups. In the more specific area of educational software, there are numerous small specialized producers operating alongside these large groups which are particularly dynamic.

The European market is split into three segments, each with a different growth rate. The most dynamic segment is the domestic market, where demand is for educational games and cultural software. The market for professional training software is steadily growing but at a slower rate. The school market is still really only a potential market which is difficult for private firms to enter.

While the European market is particularly creative, certain features place it at a disadvantage. It is economically and culturally fragmented, the school market is segmented and the regulatory environment is not very favourable. Moreover, the standard of quality of its teaching products does not always meet the expectations of its users.

The task force intends to assess:

- The nature of what is on offer (publishers, media, distribution channels) and the nature of demand (families, schools, universities, undertakings and professional training centres);
- The nature of support offered by the Member States themselves or at the European Union level to encourage the production, distribution and use of multimedia educational software, and support on offer by their main competitors.

Following this, the task force will draw up recommendations before implementing an action plan to mobilize funds available at national and European level in a more coordinated manner so as to promote research and development, dissemination and innovation activities.

The task force commenced work in March. So far, it has finalized the terms of its mandate and has held two initial meetings with 50 representatives from European institutions, undertakings and user groups. It has also decided which routes should be explored, including the level of North American and Japanese competition, the degree of European creativity, the possibility of joint strategies and the contribution which European R&D might make.

Action programme for the remainder of 1995:

- June: first appraisal of the European situation;
- 15 June: call for ideas and expressions of interest;
- 13 September: hearing of representatives of industry by Mrs. Cresson and Mr. Bangemann;
- End-September: report on results of the call for ideas;
- End-October: first draft of the final report;
- October-December: consultation with interested parties.

For details on the five other task forces, please see the relevant record on the RTD-News database (identified by its RCN number):

- The car of the future (RCN 4289);
- The new generation of aeroplanes (RCN 4290);
- Vaccines and virus-based diseases (RCN 4291);
- The train of the future (RCN 4292);
- Transport intermodality (RCN 4293).

last modification: 2017-08-07 17:15:01



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