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State Chiefs' Report Plugs School Telecommunications

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Washington

Educators must support the development of telecommunications networks and use them in the classroom if students are ever to achieve the national education goals, the Council of Chief State School Officers contends in a new report.

Under a grant from the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the council for the past two years has studied the application of distance-learning technologies to classroom instruction and professional development.

The new report, "United States Education and Instruction Through Telecommunications: Distance Learning for All Learners," or USEIT, was released last week at a news conference.

"Those of us who went through school thumbing through textbooks and searching in encyclopedias just were living in a very different age," Gordon M. Ambach, the council's executive director, said after watching students from Woodbridge, Va.'s C.D. Hylton High School obtain access to up-to-date scientific research on the Internet computer network.

Yet even Frank B. Withrow, who directed the study for the council, conceded that the report was being issued at a time when financing for federal education-technology programs is on the chopping block on Capitol Hill and efforts to retain requirements for affordable educational access in pending telecommunications-reform legislation faces an uphill battle. (See related story .)

Policy Points

The report contains 12 recommendations to guide the development of networking technologies for schools, including:

Cooperation among industry, distance-learning providers, and regulatory agencies to insure that delivery systems are "compatible, interoperable, and cost-effective."(See educational use of telecommunications, as well as reasonable "fair use" copyright guidelines for electronic materials.
Professional-development programs for teachers and administrators that incorporate telecommunications and provide the technical training to use the technology effectively.
Changes in states' accreditation programs that foster the use of distance learning.

Single copies of the report are $20 each from the C.C.S.S.O.'s publications office, 1 Massachusetts Ave, N.W., Suite 700, Washington D.C. 20001; (202) 336-7016.

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