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We are at the dawn of a knowledge based economy. Telecommunications deregulation, industrial restructuring, and the World Wide Web are drivers and enablers of this revolution. But how much farther down the information highway must we travel before information access and connectivity truly enrich and simplify our daily lives? Education is an area of particular need, where the impact of information technology can be enormous. The United States spends more than $608 billion annually on education and training. Yet achievement levels do not always meet expectations, and some US citizens lack access to education resources altogether. Similar problems exist in the US workplace. By some estimates, as few as 10% of the US work force receives formal training on the job (and the fraction is even lower in small companies). Industry is searching for more cost effective methods of education and training. The Adaptive Learning Systems (ALS) Focused Program, just introduced by the Advanced Technology Program (ATP) of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is a cost sharing program designed to buffer risks faced by companies that are willing to undertake high risk projects that otherwise would be underfunded or ignored. The program focuses on enabling technologies that ultimately will support flexible, network-centric, Web based learning systems.