BLOOMINGTON, Ind.–April 12, 2007–This year, the nonprofit Agency for Instructional Technology, AIT, celebrates 45 years of service to education. What began as a film library in 1962 is a vastly different organization in 2007. But as many things have changed, so have many things remained the same.

Back in "the day" of the 1950s, when film and television were merging to provide instruction, film canisters and movie projectors were the standard delivery mechanisms–and teachers, audio-visual professionals, and television producers were the gatekeepers. This is when AIT had its beginning as part of a film library based in New York City. Through a series of events (see "AIT Timeline," page 3), it became the Agency for Instructional Technology, a self-supporting, international nonprofit education organization producing original instructional materials from its base in Bloomington, Indiana.

AIT´s mission then–and now–is to serve learners. The Agency has accomplished that mission by developing, acquiring, and distributing quality electronic technology-based resources and services. Through the years that included video, software, broadcast media, and all the print materials needed to support those instructional and professional development products.

Today might be called "The Digital Day." Now AIT provides digital content that can be accessed by a computer–such as DVDs and server-based or Internet-streamed video-on-demand systems–and all the services required for those modes of transmission: instructional design, metadata development, standards alignment, digitization of existing product, and distribution of products (via both traditional and digital modes).

By digitizing its media, AIT makes it possible to index or chapter (or "chunk") whole video programs into smaller units, called individual learning objects, for ease of use in the classroom and align each chapter with state curriculum standards. Teacher guides and other supplementary print materials are also available in electronic format.

"AIT has reinvented itself by moving to digital content, increasing our services related to digital content, and pursuing partnerships and sponsorships," said Chuck Wilson, AIT´s Executive Director. "The Agency continues to provide distribution of content in whatever format users want–which is really just an expansion of our longtime service and being in tune with customers´ needs and the rapidly changing technologies we all use."

Through the years, AIT has produced more than 35 major curriculum packages and has acquired and distributed instructional materials from many other producers. Its materials comprise 40 percent of all broadcast video classroom programming in the United States and Canada, are used on six continents, and reach millions of students in North American classrooms each year. The Agency´s over 1,600 individual educational titles span pre-K through 12th grade and include adult and teacher education, as well as materials for professional development across the workforce.

But the more things change, the more they stay the same: AIT still produces award-winning instructional media and serves the content needs of K-12 schools through broadcast-type licensing arrangements.

For more information about the Agency for Instructional Technology, visit the Web site at www.ait.net or call Chuck Wilson, AIT´s Executive Director, at 1-800-457-4509, ext. 207.

AIT Timeline

  • 1962. Began this year, when the U.S. Office of Education financed, as a five-year demonstration, the National Instructional Television Library.
  • 1962-65. Administered by National Educational Television (NET) in New York City. Edwin G. Cohen, the first director, served as executive director through June 30, 1990.
  • 1965. Became the National Center for School and College Television (NCSCT) and began operation under the Indiana University Foundation in Bloomington.
  • 1968. Became the National Instructional Television Center (NITC/NIT).
  • 1970. Became self-supporting; pioneered the consortium process to fund its projects, tapping into U.S. state and Canadian provincial education departments for development and distribution.
  • April 11, 1973. Incorporated as the Agency for Instructional Television, a permanent organization structure to improve and expand the cooperative processes begun with NIT.
  • July 1, 1984. Changed name to the Agency for Instructional Technology to more accurately reflect emerging technologies in educational media.
  • July 1, 1990. Michael F. Sullivan named executive director; served through January 3, 2003.
  • 1992-2002. Technos Press published TECHNOS: Quarterly for Education and Technology, AIT´s print journal; books added to the library in ensuing years.
  • November 20, 1994. AIT´s new headquarters dedicated in Bloomington, IN.
  • 2000. The Learning Odyssey (TLO), the first-ever comprehensive online curriculum for elementary grades developed.
  • July 1, 2003. Chuck Wilson, after serving as interim director since January 4, 2003, appointed executive director.
  • May 2004. Technos eZine, AIT´s electronic newsletter, launched.
  • 2007. AIT celebrates 45 years of service to education. The Agency has changed through the years, but continues its sole mission of serving learners.

For more information on AIT´s history and for links to related papers, see the National Public Broadcasting Archives online at the University of Maryland University Libraries Web site:

http://www.lib.umd.edu/NPBA/subinfo/ait.html

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