Bell Atlantic Gives $200,000 to Virginia Tech
to Extend Interactive Distance Learning to K-12 Schools
Virginia Department of Education to Play Key
Role in Implementation
November 4, 1998
RICHMOND, Va. -- Bell Atlantic will contribute $200,000 to Virginia
Tech to make the latest interactive distance learning technologies available
to all elementary and secondary schools in the state. The Virginia
Department of Education will share with Tech the responsibility for
overseeing the operation of the new technology.
Virginia Tech will use the grant to add a digital bridge to
Net.Work.Virginia, the state's new high-speed, broadband
telecommunications network. The bridge will enable the state's K-12
schools to conduct video conferencing and interactive distance learning
sessions with other schools, community colleges and universities across the
state. The digital bridge, which will be located in Virginia Tech's offices
in downtown Richmond, should be operational by second semester of this
"Until now Net.Work.Virginia has been primarily used by higher education.
We're delighted that these funds can help extend this exciting technology
to the state's elementary and secondary students," said Hugh Stallard,
president and CEO of Bell Atlantic - Virginia.
Elementary and secondary schools will be able to connect to the bridge by
subscribing to Net.Work.Virginia or simply dialing in to the bridge over an
ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) line. Using the digital bridge,
they can then connect to multiple sites for video conferencing or distance
learning among schools or with community colleges and universities,
regardless of whether the sites are actually on Net.Work.Virginia.
Net.Work.Virginia uses fiber optics and the latest ATM (asynchronous
transfer mode) digital technology to transmit voice, data and video at
extremely high speeds over a single data line. Virtually all of Virginia's
institutions of higher learning, all 23 of the state's community colleges, and
over 85 K-12 sites are linked to Net.Work.Virginia. The system currently
serves more than 400 separate sites.
One of the key uses of Net.Work.Virginia is for interactive distance
learning programs. A teacher at one school, for example, can instruct
students at up to four other sites. The students can interact with the
teacher using video monitors and voice-activated microphones.
Net.Work.Virginia participants also use its advanced system for high-speed
Internet access, client-server data services and local area network
connections for traditional networking needs.
Virginia Tech will be responsible for buying, setting up and operating the
bridge for a one-year period. Following that, the commonwealth's
Department of Education will have primary responsibility for overseeing
the operation and maintenance of the bridge, with support from Virginia
"This will provide a vital link between K-12 schools and colleges and
universities in Virginia," said Erv Blythe, vice president for information
systems at Virginia Tech. "Virginia Tech is pleased to have this opportunity to
work with the Department of Education on emerging technologies."
The funds for the Bell Atlantic award come from the company's Distance
Learning Grants Program. Bell Atlantic - Virginia committed in 1994 to
make available $1 million a year for seven years to support the
development of interactive distance learning in the state.
Bell Atlantic will announce the winners of its 1998 distance learning grants
Bell Atlantic is at the forefront of the new communications and information
industry. With more than 41 million telephone access lines and more than
seven million wireless customers worldwide, Bell Atlantic companies are
premier providers of advanced wireline voice and data services, market
leaders in wireless services and the world's largest publishers of directory
information. Bell Atlantic companies are also among the world's largest
investors in high-growth global communications markets, with operations
and investments in 23 countries.