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
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
--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:
--Career profiles/occupational outlook
--Full details on colleges and universities: programs, financial aid,
--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
--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
--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
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
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
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.