A California technology company has announced a $5 million grant program that will furnish educators with software that will make it possible for them to obtain electronic versions of national publications.
At a press briefing at the Library of Congress last month, Adobe Systems Inc. announced that it will distribute copies of its "Acrobat'' software free of charge to K-12 institutions nationwide.
Company officials said the program is designed to help educators develop a taste for the services that may eventually be available over the electronic "information highway.''
"We feel that this software is going to enable the information highways that are being built to actually carry information that could be put to use in the classroom,'' said Deborah Triant, Adobe's vice president of marketing.
The software allows Macintosh and DOS-based machines to decode computer instructions used by many national publishers to set their publications into type.
The Acrobat software reproduces the original document--whether color or black and white--on the user's computer screen. Special features allow readers to search for keywords in a document or to leave memos on "electronic sticky notes'' to other readers.
The publishers of Sports Illustrated for Kids, the classroom edition of The Wall Street Journal, and the Congressional Record made prototypes of their electronic documents available at Adobe's press briefing to demonstrate the software.
Additional software distributed through the grant program will allow schools to develop their own documents, which they could then share with others electronically.
Schools in the Adobe program will be able to receive electronic publications via modem and standard telephone line or on compact disks.
Participants will also be able to distribute unlimited copies of documents over local area networks from a central location, such as a library.
Meanwhile, the state-backed California Technology Project is working with Adobe to integrate Acrobat into a program called GUIDE, a graphic interface that will allow educators easy access to the Internet, a global network of networks.
The new grant program is open to any private or public school in the United States serving grades K-12.
Schools must submit an application form to Adobe by June 30 that describes their plans for using the software and that offers proof they own the necessary hardware to run the programs.
Each application must be accompanied by a $25, refundable application fee.
Application packets can be obtained by calling Adobe Systems customer information at (800) 521-1976.--P.W.