Tech, Singapore to cooperate
By Sally Harris
Spectrum Volume 20 Issue 15 - December 11, 1997
Edward Fox, professor of computer science, and Anne Moore, director of Information Technology Initiatives, Information Systems, both at Virginia Tech, took part November 7 in the signing of an agreement between the United States and Singapore to collaborate on digital-library research.
The Singapore National Science and Technology Board (NSTB), the United States National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Telecommunication Authority of Singapore (TAS) hosted the official launch of SINGAREN--vBNS (Singapore Internet Next Generation Advanced Research and Education Network) connection with the U.S. very-high-performance Broadband Network Service in Washington, D.C.
SINGAREN, a high-speed network link, is the first vBNS link to Asia. It will facilitate collaborative research between Singapore and the United States. Virginia Tech is connected to vBNS through Net.Work Virginia, which it coordinates. Fox serves as one of the investigators on the NSF grant that helps support Virginia Tech's vBNS connection.
Fox gave a talk titled "Distributed Learner Spaces with Digital Libraries" during the ceremony. Moore signed the memorandum of understanding between the Virginia Tech Department of Computer Science and the Singapore Institute of Systems Science. Guests of honor who witnessed the events included a representative for John Gibbons, assistant to the U.S. president for science and technology, and Rear Adm. Teo Chee Hean, the Singapore minister for education and chairman of the National Instructional Technology Committee.
The agreement between Virginia Tech and the Singapore institution will mean collaboration on such topics as building a distributed content-management system that will handle bibliographic, multilingual, full-text, image, and video information and ways to allow for search and distribution of such information easily across thousands of universities internationally.
The focus will be on providing an environment for more likely and efficient learning. Educators will act, in some cases, as oracles, and, in others, as facilitators while shaping the delivery environment so learners benefit. The collaboration also will, among other things, make use of the Institute of Systems Science's Virtual Institute as a testbed in Singapore for user interfaces studies.
A high-speed link, Fox said, allows the collection of information to be distributed across international borders so that educators in one region can tap the content and expertise of educators in other regions. The project's goal is to lay theoretical and practical foundations for a global digital library to support education, both in established institutes of learning and as an ongoing process for people at home.
The two groups hope to initiate and possibly formalize a series of visits and/or an exchange of students and staff. In addition, Fox hopes that there will be sharing of computer-science educational materials, virtual connections between those in the Blacksburg Electronic Village and residents of Singapore, and involvement of Singapore universities in the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations, which he directs. It can be seen at http://www.ndltd.org.