Blue-ribbon group of Dallas cultural organizations joined together tolearn how telecommunications solutions can unite Dallas-Fort WorthMetroplex educators and students with local arts and science groups.

What if? If only? Those are questions that executives from four local non-profit organizations, area educators and GTE Telephone Operations will discuss June 15 during a first-of-its-kind forum and technology demonstration that explores how interactive video services can enhance relationships between local schools, museums and science organizations.

IRVING, Texas -- Thanks to advanced telecommunications technology, Metroplex classrooms of the future may be able to visit the Dallas Museum of Art and Dallas Symphony Orchestra in the morning, the Museum of African American Life and Culture during lunch and UT Southwestern Medical Center in the afternoon -- all without leaving their schools.

GTE Telephone Operations envisions linking these four local non-profit organizations to identically equipped sites at area schools in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex with media conferencing equipment that delivers two-way fully interactive video capabilities that is connected via the public telephone network.

"GTE is strongly committed to investing in education, and this technology can open windows to the world for students throughout the Metroplex by enhancing and supporting the public education system," said

Mary Beth Bardin, Vice President - Public Affairs for GTE.

"We believe students can be motivated to stay in school and learn, and become more productive citizens, by being exposed to the arts and sciences in new and exciting ways made available by advanced technology," Bardin added.

According to GTE, the two-way fully interactive distance learning technology to be demonstrated Thursday, can help the non-profit organizations expand their presence by introducing local schools to the groups' exhibits, programs, staff experts and other resources.

Since 1992, UT Southwestern has exposed local science teachers and students to its doctors and professors during quarterly symposiums as part of its Science Teacher Access to Resources at Southwestern, or STARS program. The STARS program is partially funded by a grant from the GTE Foundation.

Today, the symposiums are videotaped, allowing teachers to share the symposium material with students at their schools. Under a proposed expanded version of the existing outreach program that would continue, symposiums and programs hosted by UT Southwestern and other cultural organizations could be broadcast live into local classrooms via two-way interactive video equipment provided by GTE.

"Two-way interactive video is a powerful tool that can help teachers introduce students to people and topics in ways never dreamed," said

Margo Howell, National Education Strategy Manager for GTE. "In the spirit of cultivating public-private partnerships, we hope to create enhanced relationships between some of Dallas' largest non-profit organizations and Metroplex school systems, plus make the groups even more accessible by offering an alternative means for people to visit their facilities."

GTE will demonstrate to officials from the Dallas Museum of Art,

Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Museum of African American Life and Culture, UT Southwestern, and local educators how the advanced telecommunications solutions can unite diverse organizations, boost membership, stimulate student interest in learning and increase awareness of their organizations during a technology demonstration at 9:15 a.m. on Thursday, June 15.

The one-hour demonstration will occur at GTE's Technology Solution Center located on the fourth floor of the Dallas Infomart, 1950 Stemmons Freeway, Suite 4001. During the demonstration, GTE will link together its Dallas and Tampa, Fla., Technology Solution Centers to showcase the quality differences of video images being transmitted at different speeds.

GTE Telephone Operations is the largest U.S.-based local telephone company, providing voice, video and data products and services through more than 22 million access lines in portions of the United States, Canada, South America, the Caribbean and the Pacific. Its parent organization, GTE Corporation, is the fourth-largest publicly owned telecommunications company in the world.