As computer-literacy courses proliferate in schools across the country, at least one school is also developing its students' proficiency in another, related subject: telecommunications literacy.
At the North Fulton Center for International Studies, a magnet school in Atlanta, high-school students can take a one-semester course that "explores all facets of electronic communications."
Through the telecommunications course, students prepare to qualify for a ham radio license; help produce a television show; learn to use word-processing, database-management, and spreadsheet software; and set up a computerized bulletin board.
"We believe that no other high school in the country offers such an extensive course in communications," said Ann Goellner, instructional coordinator at the school. "By the end of the course, students will know more about communications than 95 percent of the people in this country."
Hayes Microcomputer Products Inc. helped design the course and is supplying modems--devices that allow computers to "talk" over telephone lines--and telecommunications software for Apple computers.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting is spending $1 million in its search for innovative instructional television series for elementary and secondary grades.
The cpb is challenging producers "to create products that position television, along with traditional text and emerging technologies, as an integral part of education for the coming years."
Grants will be awarded for up to 50 percent of the project's costs. Proposals are due by Dec. 7.
For submission guidelines and further information, call Meg Villarreal at (202) 955-5264.
The Children's Television Workshop, creator of Sesame Street and The Electric Company, has received four grants totaling $390,000 for the development of a daily television series on mathematics for children aged 8 to 12.
The workshop currently produces "3-2-1 Contact," an award-winning science and technology series for the same age group.
Start-up funding for the six-month development phase of the mathematics series has been provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Exxon Education Foundation, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
The television workshop is seeking funding for the first season of production, tentatively budgeted at nearly $14 million. Broadcasts on public television could begin as early as 1986, said ctw officials.
Together with "3-2-1 Contact," the new series will provide a daily hour of educational television for the post-Sesame Street audience in science and math, "areas where there is a crucial national need for at-home complements to classroom instruction," said Joan Ganz Cooney, president of the workshop.
"3-2-1 Contact" reportedly attracted more than 7.5 million view-ers a week last year. In addition, it received more than 650,000 requests for teacher's guides.
At the annual meeting of the National Council for Children and Television this month, John Brademas, president of New York University, called upon broadcasters and federal officials to increase television programming for children.
"Television is our single most underutilized resource for teaching and learning," Mr. Brademas said. "We are failing to develop fully its extraordinary power, and through that neglect, failing our children as well."
Mr. Brademas noted that by the age of 20, the average American has has watched 20,000 hours of television--more time than he or she has spent in the classroom. Yet, he added, programming for children on the commercial television networks has dropped by more than half--from an average of 10.5 hours weekly in 1974 to 4.4 hours in 1983.
"Much of the responsibility for the decline," Mr. Brademas said, must be shared by the federal government. He noted a recent ruling by the Federal Communications Commission that released commercial broadcasters "from any obligation whatsoever to program for young viewers."
Mr. Brademas said, "Federal support for public television has been cut by nearly $60 million annually." And he urged the networks to "take a serious look at their progamming for children, not defensively to praise their records, but to improve their performance."
kidsnet, a computerized clearinghouse for children's radio and television, was unveiled last week at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington.
With research and development funding from the Ford Foundation and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, kidsnet will collect information about radio and television programs, mini-programs, and public-service announcements that are geared toward children and their families and aired on public, commercial, cable, or satellite networks.
"Information can be educational or it can be noise, a waste of time," Karen Jaffe, executive director of kidsnet, said in a press release. "Through kidsnet, educators, parents, and even children can learn to make discriminating choices in their selection of electronic media.''
When the system is fully operational--which could be in 12 to 18 months--users will be linked to its computerized database through either a toll-free telephone number or direct computer hookups.
For information, call kidsnet at (202) 466-4252.
"Ready or Not," a television series designed to help educators plan for and use micrcomputers in schools, is being produced by the North Carolina Department of Public INstruction in cooperation with Mississippi Educational Television. For more information, call William Pendergraft at 919-733-3193.--lck