Technology Column

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Cable-television franchisees would be required to make one channel available for educational programming under the terms of an amendment that a federal lawmaker hopes to attach to a pending telecommunications measure.

Senator Jeff Bingaman, Democrat of New Mexico, hopes to amend the "communications competitiveness and infrastructure modernization act of 1991"--which would encourage the nation's telephone companies to accelerate the process of wiring homes, schools, and hospitals with fiber-optic cable--to require cable operators to make capacity available for instructional use.

Speaking this month at a hearing on the bill, which is sponsored by Senators Albert Gore, Jr., Democrat of Tennessee, and Conrad Burns, Republican of Montana, Senator Bingaman said his provision would spur the development of new instructional cable programs for all educational levels as well as for staff development and training.

"As we add more and more technological capabilities and more and more channels, it seems reasonable to devote more channels to the public good,'' he said.

Several witnesses, particularly John S. Hendricks, the chairman and chief executive officer of Discovery Communications, disagreed.

Senator Bingaman's initiative, he said, "reaches the wrong policy conclusion, that the federal government should mandate content-specific set-asides for instructional programming on cable systems."

Discovery Communications is the parent company of the cable-delivered Discovery and Learning channels.

The American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers has produced Transformations, a series of eight videotapes to show middle-school students how science and technology are applied to challenges in every day life.

Each set of tapes costs $75, plus $5 for shipping and handling.

The tapes may be ordered from Transformations, P.O. Box 1205, Boston, Mass. 02130. More information may be obtained by calling the Transformations Hotline at (800) 433-AIME.

The Hewlett-Packard Company has awarded packages of graphing calculators and related educational hardware valued at $8,500 each to high schools in 34 states to help upgrade mathematics and science teaching.

The machines--which also are produced by the company's competitors--have begun to influence math teaching in a number of districts nationwide, primarily because of the efforts of researchers at Ohio State University. (See Education Week, April 10, 1991.)

Vol. 11, Issue 25, Page 9

Published in Print: March 11, 1992, as Technology Column
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