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InNorthCarolina, dents in real time as they view images from undersea submersibles—even as sci- “If I ever have a problem with classrooms are becom- entists use the submersibles to do research my homework, I can always in such places as the ing “virtual” as learning Mediterranean Sea get on the Internet, whereas “An information superhigh- goes long distance.Using or mid-ocean ridges. in the classroom a teacher way is only as good as the the initial links in a high- During the Gulf War, doesn’t always have the time students in the United on-ramps that you have to speed digital video network States communicat- for all 30 students. They that will soon connect over get onto it. . . . If there isn’t ed regularly over the never have the time, as a 3,400 North Carolina classrooms, a low-cost, effective, and Internet with students matter of fact.” colleges, libraries, hospitals, and in Israel, discussing simple way for a school or a —BRANDY JUSTICE , STUDENT government offices, students are learning such subjects as what classroom to get on the foreign languages, mathematics, and it feels like to be Internet, then it is not really science from teachers hundreds of miles under attack by Scud away. Professors at colleges of education missiles. doing any good.” are observing and counseling student Distance learn- —MITCHELL KAPOR , ELECTRONIC teachers over the network. High school ing multiplies the FRONTIER FOUNDATION teachers are participating in subject mat- resources available ter workshops and development seminars to schools and teach- without leaving their schools. High school ers, greatly increas- groups and clubs are using the network ing opportunities for to conduct long-distance joint meetings both teaching and “At this very moment, there after school hours. learning. It invites are students in a small The ferment in North Carolina reflects students anywhere in distance learning experiments that are the country to rural school in Mississippi taking shape across the country. Using the acquire the informa- learning the Russian lan- National Geographic Kids Network, stu- tion they want direct- guage. There is a group of dents are comparing environmental data ly from experts. they have gathered, such as the acidity Network links Brandy Justice students in an inner city of their local rainfall, with similar mea- expand and enrich school in Detroit working on surements made by students around the pool of teachers linear equations. There are the world. Through the Jason Project, in mathematics, sci- oceanographer Robert students in a remote Maine Ballard is interacting fishing village reciting with hundreds of Japanese.” thousands of stu- NETWORKING —RICHARD RILEY, SECRETARY OF Global Reach of THE U.S. D EPARTMENT OF K–12 National Geographic 10 EDUCATION Kids Network EDUCATION A high-speed digital “backbone” connects Students from countries around major cities in North the world (marked in red) inter- Carolina through opti- act through the National cal fiber. At each node Geographic Kids Network to (the Southern Bell study local environmental issues Central Office in the and compare the results with Triangle Park Research inset), other links carry their peers. Below, students video, audio, graphics, conduct an acid rain experiment and text to schools, to gather results that will be Asheville Charlotte Durham Raleigh hospitals, and govern- discussed on the network. ment offices. Wilmington NORTH CAROLINA NEW HANOVER Cape Fear COUNTY, N.C. Community College New Hanover High School Southern Bell Central Office New Hanover Regional University of Medical Center North Carolina/ Hoggard High School Wilmington
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T ence, or other fields. Moreover, the infor- By contrast, 99 percent of American he Internet is the pro- mation students receive via networks can public schools have computers, and 93 totype of the informa- be individualized to fit their specific needs. percent of students use them during the tion superhighway. A The new information technologies can school year. But these numbers can be foster a much more cooperative approach deceiving. Many of the computers in reflection of many com- to learning. The discovery-oriented learn- schools are older, cannot be networked, munities and individuals, ing made possible by comput- and cannot run the newest it has been built upon ers can be used to evoke dis- software. Furthermore, “Advances in networking cussion, negotiation, and crit- many of these computers both public and private technologies provide the ical thinking. Students can are not being used in ways initiatives. It provides a work in groups to solve prob- that exploit their full capa- potential for access to edu- means for collaboration and lems and use the computer to bilities. Instead, they are cational resources that may compare their efforts with dig- being used to reinforce out- research not bound by walls, not otherwise be available in dated models of education itally stored information and distance, or time. with similar efforts outside that fall far short of the many rural school systems The Internet is a key their school. goal of providing students and also in financially Yet computer networks, with what they need in element in reinventing K-12 disadvantaged urban school today’s world. despite their benefits, remain education. Children and unused by most schools. For networks to be used settings. Distance learning is adults alike who have According to data for the effectively in schools, a new now possible using full 1993-94 school year gathered model of education is need- access find that the Inter- motion video and providing by Quality Education Data, ed. This new model goes to net’s boundless information only 23 percent of public interaction between instruc- the heart of the educational resources and communica- schools use educational net- enterprise, reshaping the tors and students. Network works in at least one class- roles of teachers, students, tions capabilities are not connections that lead to new and technology. room. Even more significant- only enlightening but fun. ly, inner city schools and types of collaborations But for the Internet to be rural schools, which many between students, teach- experts say could profit most successfully used in teach- ers, and university facul- from the resources made ing and learning, the 16,500 available by computer net- ties at remote locations school districts across works, are the schools most are becoming available.” likely to be passed by. America need both to have —RICK BOUCHER , U.S. access to it and to be able REPRESENTATIVE to use it. Both the public and private sectors have an opportunity to expand access to the Internet, link- ing our nation’s schools, libraries, universities, research centers, private companies, and homes. Phone lines, interactive cable television, satellite links, and fiber optic cable In the Jason Project, students help con- trol and gather data from a deep-sea all should be options for submersible exploring the seafloor. connecting to the net. Through satellite downlinks to schools, hundreds of thousands of children have participated in the Jason Project’s voyages of discovery.