Further Information

Special Opportunity for Applications and Testbeds for Undergraduate Education

Thank you for your interest in the special funding opportunity supporting exploration of the utility of digital libraries for improving undergraduate science, mathematics, engineering, and technology education and making high quality SMET education more accessible to all students. This opportunity, sponsored by NSF’s Division of Undergraduate Education, is part of the Digital Libraries Initiative, Phase II (DLI2). The first year deadline for proposals is July 15, 1998. A letter of intent to submit a proposal should be sent by May 1, 1998 as an electronic mail message to dli2@nsf.gov. See the full DLI2 program announcement for details. Successful applicants are expected to demonstrate high potential to advance undergraduate science, mathematics, engineering and technology (SMET) education. Three types of proposals are of interest: practical digital library applications for SMET education, technical studies of digital library capabilities, and general policy studies.

The full DLI2 program announcement may be obtained on the Web at


Proposals may be parts of larger proposals submitted to the DLI2 initiative or they may be free-standing proposals submitted to the DLI2 initiative. In either case they will be expected to cooperate with each other and with projects funded under the Digital Libraries Initiatives. Taken together, this portfolio of projects will be expected to make a significant contribution toward the design and possible implementation of digital libraries for SMET education.

Of particular interest are specialized digital library applications designed for the specific knowledge domain and community of higher education with an emphasis on resources for faculty engaged in the instruction of undergraduates. Such applications include, but are not limited to, any of the following:

  • a forum for the merit review and recognition of quality educational resources,
  • a mechanism for electronic dissemination of information about high-quality educational materials, pedagogical practices, and implementation strategies,
  • a centralized registry and archive of educational resources and a mechanism for their dissemination,
  • a resource for research in teaching and learning,
  • a workplace facilitating cooperative work with shared educational resources,
  • a forum for faculty interaction and professional development on topics related to undergraduate education,
  • a resource to facilitate and inform development of educational materials and practices,
  • a resource for sharing best and experimental practices in teaching, advisement, assessment, and evaluation,
  • a resource to explore and facilitate uses of large data sets, real-time data sets, and other sources of research data for the education of undergraduates, and
  • a centralized entry point with links to other digital libraries and electronic resources supporting undergraduate SMET education.

Of general interest are technical studies of the capabilities of a digital library to serve a broad national audience of faculty, with eventual extension to K-12 teachers and students at all levels. Issues to be addressed include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • low-cost, universal access to geographically dispersed resources,
  • support for users -- including search and retrieval mechanisms that will enable users to find resources that are relevant to their needs, combine resources from different sources, and integrate them in their classrooms.
  • mechanisms for supporting authors and stimulating the production of high quality, robust, and easily maintained resources -- for example, the development of general purpose, reusable, and interchangeable educational components,
  • identifying, maintaining, and linking existing electronic resources -- for example, libraries developed by professional societies and the growing number of individual Web-based libraries,
  • quality control -- editorial oversight and reviewing to identify quality materials and to insure that authors receive recognition for their work,
  • maintenance and interoperability -- mechanisms to enable the sharing of data, tools, and other basic resources and to insure that library resources work well together and can be maintained as the underlying technologies evolve,
  • mechanisms to support assessment and evaluation of resources, courses, curricula, and student learning, and
  • dynamic archiving of selected original works while allowing for annotation and revision.

Also of interest is policy research that would inform determination of the utility and scope of a digital libary devoted to SMET education. Research topics include assessing the utility of such a system with respect to its ability to do any of the following:

  • address issues of the quality of SMET education,
  • address issues of cost and access to SMET education,
  • address school-to-work transition issues,
  • improve articulation among K-12, undergraduate, and graduate education,
  • facilitate the integration of multidisciplinary perspectives in SMET education, and
  • stimulate and support lifelong learning.

A workshop was held by the National Research Council in August 1997 to study issues related to a National Digital Library for Undergraduate SMET Education. The report of that workshop, Developing a Digital National Library for Undergraduate Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology Education, is available at the Web site of the National Academy Press http://www.nap.edu/readingroom/books/dlibrary/

If you have additional questions please feel free to contact Dr. Hal Richtol of the Division of Undergraduate Education at 703-306-1666 or by electronic mail at hrichtol@nsf.gov. Additional information on the programs and activities of the Division can be found at http://www.ehr.nsf.gov/EHR/DUE.


Last revised April 29, 1998