February 23, 1996


Introduce Pennsylvania's First K-through-12
Interactive Distance Learning System

Pittsburgh -- Four local school districts today took part in a lesson designed to showcase how the latest telecommunications technology will enhance the quality and availability of education.

Community leaders witnessed a demonstration of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit's Learning Community Network, an interactive distance learning system that links the AIU administrative offices with four AIU school districts -- Chartiers Valley, East Allegheny, Fox Chapel and McKeesport. With two-way video and audio connections, the network allows students to take courses not available in their own schools and interact with students at the other schools -- without leaving their classrooms.

A $200,000 grant from Bell Atlantic supported the construction of the LCN -- the first full-motion, interactive distance learning system for grades K through 12 in Pennsylvania.

At today's demonstration, classes in food science, English literature, elementary math and economics were conducted over the network, each led by a teacher at a different school. Students and teachers were able to see each other and communicate spontaneously, as if they were in the same classroom.

The key to the LCN is Bell Atlantic's advanced infrastructure: miles of fiber-optic cable, digital switching and high-speed data transport capabilities, all monitored around the clock. Several distance learning classrooms or locations can be connected at one time.

Taking part in the demonstration from McKeesport Area High School, AIU Executive Director Dr. Joseph Lagana praised the new technology for its promise of enhancing student achievement. "The most obvious advantage is that students will be able to take courses not available in their own school districts," a factor he said "will help bring equity to our overall system of education. Students will learn to solve problems by sharing ideas and working productively with peers at remote sites."

A more subtle advantage has to do with using the technology itself, according to Lagana. "Students working on the LCN will work in a manner which is becoming more prevalent in the business world every day."

Bell Atlantic Vice President and General Manager Ollie Bell said interactive distance learning is a "powerful tool in our efforts to break through barriers to education. Now, more than ever, our distance learning service can improve the quality and availability of education for everyone."

Bell said a good example is that "rural schools unable to offer a comprehensive language and arts curriculum may do so at a fraction of the usual expense through interactive distance learning. "At Bell Atlantic, we believe classrooms need not be defined by a blackboard, four walls and a door," said Bell. "What we're witnessing today truly is a revolution in education, and Bell Atlantic is proud to be part of that revolution."

Bell Atlantic Corporation (NYSE: BEL) is at the forefront of the new communications, entertainment and information industry. In the mid-Atlantic region, the company is the premier provider of local telecommunications and advanced services. Globally, it is one of the largest investors in the high-growth wireless communication marketplace. Bell Atlantic also owns a substantial interest in Telecom Corporation of New Zealand and is actively developing high-growth national and international business opportunities in all phases of the industry.


for more information, contact:

    Curt Miller, Allegheny Intermediate Unit

    Shirley Risoldi, Bell Atlantic

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