CONCLUSIONS

As noted in the introduction to this chapter, distributed digital librariesmay well revolutionize education and learning, but this will require resources,resources, and more resources.

Resources are needed to digitize vast amounts of materials. Hoadley and Bell(1996) state that "Education is often held up as a prime beneficiary of digitallibraries. However, the obvious benefits, such as distance education orliterally global text search, fall short of justifying either the loftyexpectations for an educational revolution or the enormous cost of puttingeverything on-line." Perhaps, a demand-driven model should be used to establishpriorities for what is digitized. These priorities could be established byprofessional educational societies and educational arms of technical societies.Then, educational representatives of higher-level National Academies could meetto prioritize across fields. Using this approach, there is a high likelihoodthat whatever is digitized would indeed be used by a large number of people,thereby justifying the large costs associated with digitization.

Resources are also needed to solve the myriad of open technical problemsthat have been discussed in other chapters of this report, but subject to theconstraints of education. This, of course, means that the educationalconstraints are known. Unfortunately, that is not the case today. One must workthrough the 25 UMDL questions in order to establish all of the constraints.Resources are therefore needed to develop effective ways for teaching andlearning using the digital libraries. If such resources are not made availableor found, then it is indeed foolhardy to believe that digital libraries willmake much of an impact, if any at all, on education.

Without computers available to students, it will not be possible for thedigital libraries to make a significant impact on education. Today in theUnited States only 35% of all college students own a computer, and only 50% ofall faculty do (Market View 1998). No doubt, the numbers of K-12 students andtheir teachers who own a computer are much smaller. Resources must be found tobring these percentages up to much higher values, or else digital librarieswill not benefit all students. Instead, they will be an important benefit onlyto those who can afford to own and maintain a computer.

It seems that more resources are being directed at the myriad of problemsassociated with digital libraries in the United States than in Japan.

In conclusion, we may indeed be at the very beginning of a "dawning of anage of Aquarius" in education, because of digital libraries. The concept andits ramifications are breathtaking. Time will tell.


Published: February 1999; WTECHyper-Librarian