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A small, rural high school in Illinois will be first in the nation to receive distance-learning programs produced by the TI-IN Network via cable television.

TI-IN, based in San Antonio, bills itself as the nation's first and largest private, for-profit provider of distance-learning via satellite.

The network recently launched its cable venture in conjunction with the Mind Extension University, an all-education, basic cable channel carried by more than 200 local cable systems nationwide.

Industry observers said that TI-IN's decision to add cable service may signal a movement among distance-learning providers--who are faced with a shortage of available space on communications satellites--to seek out alternative methods of delivery.

The cable service will allow TI-IN, which currently serves more than 6,000 students in 1,000 school districts, to serve more inner-city and rural districts, according to Lloyd Otterman, the network's chief executive officer.

In addition to providing instruction for the 125 high-school students in the Bement (Ill.) School District, said Darrell Stevens, superintendent of the district, which enrolls 520 students, the new cable service will be used to improve inservice training for teachers and administrators.

Cable programming, either live or on videotape, is becoming widely accepted as a classroom resource by the nation's teachers, a newly released survey conducted for the National Education Association indicates.

A national survey of 500 randomly selected teachers, conducted by Bruskin Associates Market Research, a New York-based firm, indicates that the use of television as an instructional aid "has grown dramatically" in the past five years.

Programs produced by the Public Broadcasting Service were the most popular among teachers surveyed and were used by 57.6 percent of the respondents.

The survey also found that roughly 26 percent of schools use programming produced by the three largest commercial networks in their classrooms.

But the survey also found that cable programming is fast becoming a popular instructional tool.

The Discovery Channel was used by 24 percent of the teachers responding to the survey. Another 11.9 percent reported using programs carried by the cable-based Arts & Entertainment Network.

The survey also found that three cable programs--"Assignment Discovery," "CNN Newsroom," and "A&E Classroom," each less than three years old--were commonly used.--PW

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