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ERIC Identifier: ED253255
Publication Date: 1984-11-00
Author: Farid, Mona
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Information Resources Syracuse NY.

Economics of Information in Education. ERIC Digest.

The economics of information is based on the concept that quality information is a scarce and valuable resource. The production and dissemination of information in education constitute two major economic activities, with associated costs and benefits.

WHY IS INFORMATION VALUABLE?

The value of information depends on its degree of accuracy, timeliness, completeness, reliability, and relevance to issues under consideration. Information possessing these qualities is expected to improve decision-making by both the consumers and suppliers of education.

WHY IS INFORMATION AN "ECONOMIC GOOD"?

Information is an economic good because scarce resources are employed in its production and dissemination. Levitan describes the production of information as a "life cycle," beginning with the existence of a "source" of information. This source becomes a "resource" via the processes of selection, editing, abstracting, indexing, and classification. The final stage of the cycle, "dissemination," occurs once the resource is packaged and made available to users.

Costs are incurred at every stage of this "life cycle." Information is thus a product that, in some instances, is subject to the laws of supply and demand, e.g., data available through ERIC and other online databases.

ECONOMIC IMPORTANCE OF INFORMATION AT THE DISSEMINATION STAGE

The dissemination of information conveys the following benefits:

--Minimizes the costs to the user of time and effort spent searching for information

--Ensures the effective use of information through filtering processes which evaluate and tailor data to suit specific user needs

--Promotes efficiency by preventing waste and duplication of effort, while providing for the sharing of ideas across federal and state educational networks

--Allows optimal allocation of resources by fostering informed decisions based on relevant data

EXAMPLES OF INFORMATION NEEDS

Individuals involved in all aspects of education demand information for a variety of purposes. The following general needs have been considered by designers of information delivery systems:

Students' Needs

--Career profiles/occupational outlook

--Full details on colleges and universities: programs, financial aid, placement record

--Government assistance, special programs, and scholarships

Administrators' and Policy-Makers' Needs

--Staffing requirement forecasts at the regional, state, and national levels

--Awareness of exemplary programs implemented successfully elsewhere

--Awareness of types of programs and services which attract students

Teachers' Needs

--Awareness of recent developments in instruction

--Awareness of research in the field

--Exchange of ideas and experiences with colleagues

INFORMATION DELIVERY SYSTEMS: METHODS AND EXAMPLES

The distribution of information occurs through some of the following kinds of channels: information clearinghouses, publications, networks, and seminars, conferences, workshops, and other meetings. These systems may be formal or informal, automated (online), manual, or verbal; they may be developed for a specific target audience or contain information that is of general use.

Student-Oriented Information Delivery Systems

--Student services provide employment information

--Career information centers located in high schools and community colleges offer occupational information

--Student employment information services sponsored by educational consortia provide data on overall demand and supply according to specific majors, and on employment trends over several years

--The United States Department of Labor National Occupation Information Service funds eight statewide agencies (the Wisconsin Career Information system described by Lambert, for example)

--Workshops conducted by high schools inform college-bound students of academic programs and services offered by colleges

--Project CHOICE (Center for Helping Institutions Improve Choice in Education) assists secondary institutions in the revision of information provided to prospective students. The operation of a Clearinghouse on Student Information and the coordination of a national consulting network are two major activities of the project

--State agencies are assuming an increasingly important role in disseminating information about postsecondary educational institutions in their states. Gill has investigated the extent, type, and quality of information provided by 35 state agencies, and indicates problems such as inconsistent coverage of college and university details, lack of information for transfer students, and the difficulty students face in comparing the same types of information displayed in different formats by different state agencies. The study also identifies some agencies that might serve as models for others

Administrator- and Teacher-Oriented Information Delivery Systems

The National Diffusion Network (NDN) helps elementary and secondary school administrators identify, adopt, and replicate successful programs (Batsche 1981). This network has three interactive components (linkages): (1) The United States Department of Education, which administers funds and validates the projects; (2) the "demonstrators/developers" who design and test projects; and (3) the state facilitator, who fosters awareness of exemplary programs. Projects that have been adopted are described by Neill.

For the planning of vocational programs, databases such as the Regional Manpower Information System in Indiana and the Vocational Education Data System Database offer data on occupational supply and demand, employment qualifications, employers' feedback, and on such details of vocational programs as staffing, expenditures, and curricula.

The Illinois Technical Assistance and Dissemination Network provides technical assistance and resources to local school districts for the improvement of vocational education for special needs students.

Teacher-Oriented Information Delivery Systems

--Liaison officers in certain programs bring preschool education research results to the attention of interested practitioners

--The National Institute of Education's Research and Development Utilization Program disseminates educational material

--Project SET, designed by the Australian Council for Educational Research, disseminates packages of articles presenting educational research in a journalistic style

--Teacher centers allow practitioners to share their ideas, problems, and classroom experiences. These centers function as forums for exhibits, inservice education, curriculum development, and resource sharing. Telecommunications networks such as the one in Montana link teacher centers in geographically remote rural areas to universities

--Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) clearinghouses disseminate information on documents available in the ERIC database

COSTS AND PRICES OF INFORMATION DELIVERY SYSTEMS

Most information delivery systems have been funded by state or federal agencies. Cost analyses are rarely reported in the literature, one notable exception being a cost and usage study of thE ERIC system (McDonald and others 1981). Most services, except for online computer searches, are provided free of charge. One of the primary purpose of these systems is to convey the maximum social benefit to students, administrators, and teachers.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Batsche, Catherine. "The Illinois Technical Assistance and Dissemination Network." VOCED 56 (April 1981):44-47.

Chapman, David W., and others. FINAL REPORT OF PROJECT CHOICE: A CENTER FOR HELPING ORGANIZATIONS IMPROVE CHOICE IN EDUCATION. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan, Center for the Study of Higher Education, 1980. ED 207 471.

Gill, Judith, and others. "The Activities of State Agencies in Providing Information to Prospective Students." JOURNAL OF HIGHER EDUCATION 51 (November-December 1980):591-600.

Johnson, Maniza A. SIGNIFICANT INSERVICE DELIVERY SYSTEM DESIGNS FOR GEOGRAPHICALLY ISOLATED SCHOOL PERSONNEL. Unpublished paper, Montana State University, 1979. ED 200 569.

Lampert, Roger H., and others. WISCONSIN CAREER INFORMATION SYSTEM. ANNUAL PROGRESS REPORT 1978, JULY 14, 1977-JULY 13, 1978. THIRD YEAR OF OPERATION. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Vocational Studies Center, 1978. ED 164 840.

Levitan, Karen B. "Information Resources as 'Goods' in the Life Cycle of Information." JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR INFORMATION SCIENCE 33 (Janauary 1982):44-53.

McDonald, Dennis D., and others. COST AND USAGE STUDY OF THE EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES INFORMATION CENTER (ERIC) SYSTEM. FINAL REPORT. Rockville, MD: King Research, 1981. ED 208 902.

Neill, Shirley Boes. "The National Diffusion Network." PHI DELTA KAPPAN 62 (June 1981):726-728.

Owen, John M., and others. FACTORS AFFECTING WITHIN SCHOOL USE OF EDUCATIONAL KNOWLEDGE. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the Australian Association for Research in Education. Adelaide, South Australia, November 1981. ED 217 529.

Rauth, Marilyn, and others. AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH AND DISSEMINATION PROGRAM. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY. Washington, D.C.: American Federation of Teachers, 1982. ED 231 759.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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