Following is a list of computer networks that teachers and their students may find useful.
Access Excellence: Designed to help secondary school biology teachers keep up-to-date with the latest developments in their discipline. The interactive network allows teachers to share ideas with other teachers, communicate with working scientists, access resources, and sort through other up-to-date information in the field of biology. It is available through an American Online subscription and requires a computer, modem, telephone line, and software. Access costs approximately $10 per month. For hookup through America Online, call: (800) 827-6364.
America Online: Provides a wide variety of online educational services, including live classes, homework help, grant listings, contests and awards, tutoring, and live conferences for both teachers and parents. It also provides access to other online services, such as CNN Online, National Geographic Online, Smithsonian Online, and Library of Congress Online. Access to the network requires a computer, modem, telephone line, and software. The monthly $9.95 fee includes up to five hours of use each month; each additional hour costs $3.50. For a free software package, call: (800) 827-6364.
America Tomorrow Leadership Information Service: Includes resource information on school policy, administration, reform, special-needs students, and early childhood education; updated news services; bulletin boards; and electronic mail for leaders in education, business, and community-based organizations. Accessed with an IBM, IBM-compatible, or Macintosh computer, modem, telephone line, and software, ATLIS charges an annual subscription fee of $219, for which you receive unlimited usage, software, and a one-year subscription to Technology & Learning magazine. Members of participating associations, such as the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and the National Education Goals Panel, pay a reduced annual fee of $179. Call: (800) 456-8881.
ASCD Online: Provides articles on curriculum issues from such publications as Educational Leadership, live conferencing, and a “Talk About Curriculum” message board, among other services offered by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Access is available through an America Online subscription and requires a computer, modem, telephone line, and software. Call: (800) 8276364, ext. 5888.
AT&T Learning Network: Offers elementary, middle, and high school classes six-week introductory courses three times a year and longer curricular sessions of 11 or 15 weeks during the fall and spring. During these courses and sessions, groups of seven to 10 classes are electronically linked. Participants in these “learning circles” can work together on a specific educational project, such as exploring global issues, discussing society’s problems, or publishing a newspaper. Each course and session costs a fixed fee per classroom that includes placement in a learning circle, curriculum materials, software, technical support, a monthly newsletter, and online Learning Circle News. Access requires an Apple II, Macintosh, or MS-DOS-compatible computer, a Hayes-compatible modem, telephone line, and software. Call: (800) 3677225, ext. 4158.
CompuServe: Furnishes instant access to a wide array of services, including Accu-Weather Maps and Reports, Associated Press Online, Grolier’s Academic American Encyclopedia, Peterson’s College Database, HealthNet, and trivia quizzes. Accessed with MS-DOS or Macintosh computers, a modem, telephone line, and software, CompuServe’s initial charge is $39.95, for which users receive a subscription to CompuServe Magazine, software, basic service for one month, and credit toward such extended services as live conferences, message boards, computer graphics forums, and a database reference center. The monthly user fee is $8.95. Call: (800) 848-8199.
GEnie: Provides a variety of services, including education round-tables, live conferences, and a Computer Assisted Learning Center, which allows subscribers to take courses for college credit, receive tutoring, and get help from the homework center. GEnie can be accessed through a personal computer, modem, telephone line, and standard communications software for a monthly subscription fee of $8.95, which includes up to four hours of standard connect time. The standard hourly connect charge after that is $3 per hour, except during prime-time—8 a.m. to 6 p.m.— when the rate is higher. Communications software packages range in price from $50 to $100. GEnie will waive its monthly fee for the first two months if customers sign up before April 30. Call: (800) 638-9636.
GTE Educational Network Services: Provides educators, special education teachers, government officials, and other interested subscribers with access to a variety of resources—including education periodicals (such as Teacher Magazine and Education Week), classroom guides, reference guides, and discussion groups—through the use of electronic mail, bulletin boards, and databases. Accessed by computer, modem, and telephone, GTE requires a one-time set-up fee of $25 and an annual subscription fee of $35. Online prime-time rates range from $14 to more than $25 per hour. Call: (800) 927-3000.
NEA Online: Helps National Education Association members communicate with one another nationwide. Network services also include daily education news, curriculum ideas, NEA Today articles, lesson plans, and a list of upcoming education programs on television. Access requires a computer, modem, telephone line, and software. Users pay a minimum of $5.95 per month, which includes unlimited time on NEA Online and one free hour of America Online. (Additional time on America Online, through NEA Online, costs 10 cents per minute.) Through the end of March, new subscribers will receive the first month free and five free hours on America Online. Then, for the next five months, the monthly fee is $2.95. To request an individual copy of the NEA Online software registration kit, contact America Online: (800) 827-6364, ext. 7797.
National Geographic Kids Network: Offers eight-week handson scientific research projects for students in grades 4-6 on such real-world topics as water, solar energy, and acid rain. Students are able to share their findings with other schools across the country via the network; they also get online help from practicing scientists. Projects range in cost from $325 to $375, which covers the software kit, a teacher’s manual, handbooks, maps, and activity sheets, among other things. Online time requires a flat fee of $115, which covers the length of each project. The network can be accessed with a Macintosh, IBM, or Apple IIGS computer, modem, telephone line, and software. Call: (800) 368-2728.
Prodigy: Provides educational programs including AccuWeather forecasts, Grolier’s Academic American Encyclopedia, and interactive versions of PBS’s Sesame Street, NOVA, and Carmen Sandiego for a basic monthly fee of $14.95. It can be accessed with an IBM, IBMcompatible, or Macintosh Plus computer, modem, telephone line, and software. The cost for a membership software kit is $4.95 for shipping and handling. Call: (800) 776-0845.
Scholastic Network: Allows educators and their students to carry on conversations with authors, scientists, policymakers, and other subscribers around the country; it also provides access to eight national news wires, past articles from Scholastic publications, databases, bulletin boards, and conferences. For the annual subscription fee of $295, schools receive five hours of online time per month, seasonal curriculum planning supplements, and a comprehensive member’s guide. Individual memberships cost $16.95 per month and include five hours of online time per month. Additional time costs $6 per hour. Access requires a computer, modem, telephone line, and software. Call: (800) 473-2500.
A version of this article appeared in the January 01, 1994 edition of Teacher as Extra Credit: Educational Online Services