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Prometeus – promoting multimedia access to education and training in European Society


PROMETEUS: PROmoting Multimedia access to Education and Training in EUropean Society. This bold acronym has been chosen by the Steering Committee as an appropriate and easily remembered symbol of its basic goals.

Learning and training have become vital citizen needs in what is now called the Information Society, and both depend on appropriate and timely access to knowledge.

Telematics and multimedia based tools and knowledge contents are widely considered as potentially central ingredients to the evolving new ways and means of learning and training. These aspects are at the core of important European Union research programmes and are being addressed by a number of EU projects on research, technological development and demonstration (RTD).

However, research teams alone cannot by themselves develop consensus views on the important underlying societal issues. The building of a genuine consensus on such issues tends inevitably to lag behind technological and scientific developments, although it can sometimes be artificially forced upon Society by powerful private interests that can trigger unsustained ‘fashion’ waves through the use of the medias.

To become technically and/or socially applicable and useful, consensus views must, in turn, be expressed in terms of technical standards or social regulations or conventions.

With a clear underlying ideal of promoting the access to knowledge, education and training for all European citizens - regardless of their age, their work situation, their geographical location or their social status, the PROMETEUS initiative, which has already brought together hundreds of public and private sector key players will seek, as a permanently open forum, to build, express and voice consensus views on any relevant issue that may be presented for its consideration.

In particular, the following issues will be addressed:

- optimal strategies for multicultural, multilingual learning solutions,
- new instructional and training approaches and new learning environments,
- affordable solutions & platforms based on open standards and best practices,
- publicly accessible and interoperable knowledge repositories.

PROMETEUS's consensus building actions will thus seek to bridge the gap between research and actual use of learning technologies, content and services. As specified in the founding MoU: Multimedia Access to Education and Training in Europe, PROMETEUS results are expected as guidelines and best practice handbooks - as well as recommendations which will be submitted, as necessary, to Education and Training Authorities and to EU and International Standards Bodies. In particular, close cooperation is expected with the newly formed Learning Technologies Standards Workshop of the Information Society Standardization System of the European Committee for Standardization (CEN/ISSS). In fact, a joint launch conference will take place on 25 March 1999 in Brussels which is expected to gather representatives of end-users of education and training, trainers and educators, educational authorities, researchers, producers of contents and service providers.
The concrete focus for the consensus building actions will be the PROMETEUS Special Interest Groups (SIGs). The PROMETEUS Steering Committee has identified 10 such SIGs, in the first instance. These will meet for the first time on 26th March, when they will elect their own management and start working on the following topics:

- Interchange, Reusability and Portability of Multimedia Educational Material
- New Ways of Corporate Learning, Using Information & Communication Technologies
- Organisational and Co-operative Learning
- Higher Education Best Practices
- Web-based Open and Distance Learning
- Broadcasting-based Learning
- Primary and Secondary School Learning Environments, Based on Information & Communication Technologies
- How to Create Self-sustainable New Learning Service Businesses
- Design of Electronic Learning Environments
- Interoperability of Learning Services
- Additional SIGs will be created as needed.

The PROMETEUS Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has the full title : Multimedia Access to Education and Training in Europe - A Partnership for a Common Approach to the Production and Delivery of Learning Technologies, Content and Services. This MoU will continue to be open for signature to all public and private organizations that share its aims and objectives and are willing to contribute to this work in Europe, either in the form of direct PROMETEUS participation or by creating awareness of the issues raised by the MoU and disseminating the PROMETEUS results.

`The Commission expresses the hope that all key players will contribute to this European initiative', says Luis Rodríguez-Roselló, Head of Unit, European Commission, DG XIII, Applications for Education and Training, the Information Society Technologies (IST) programme.

The PROMETEUS Steering Committee shares this hope and will pledge its best efforts to make this process a successful example of how to deal with fundamental and difficult challenges, affecting society as a whole.

Dr Eddy Forte
PROMETEUS Steering Committee Chairman


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