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NATIONAL FILM BOARD OF CANADA INTERACTIVE PROGRAM USES NEW TECHNOLOGY TO EXPLORE URBAN ENVIRONMENTS "VIRTUAL CITIES"

 NATIONAL FILM BOARD OF CANADA INTERACTIVE PROGRAM USES
 NEW TECHNOLOGY TO EXPLORE URBAN ENVIRONMENTS "VIRTUAL CITIES"
 Links Children In 3 Countries October 13
 In World's First Virtual Reality Satellite Teleconference
 TORONTO, Oct. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- In an unprecedented electronic 'event' scheduled for Oct. 13, children in the United States, Canada and Italy will tour each other's neighborhoods, play ball, make music and build a community together in the world's first 'virtual reality' satellite teleconference.
 The program, entitled VIRTUAL CITIES, is an initiative of the award- winning National Film Board of Canada (NFBC), in cooperation with the Toronto-based Vivid Group and Telesat Canada. VIRTUAL CITIES will take virtual reality beyond the video arcade to a broader realm of education and communication.
 More than ten international satellite and telecommunications organizations will join forces to carry the hour-long program live to audiences on five continents, making it the largest educational television network ever assembled for a single event.
 The VIRTUAL CITIES demonstration is the first step in the NFBC's "Urban Update" program, an interactive learning project. Conceived and developed by NFBC producer Julie Stanfel, "Urban Update" will establish a network of young people around the world to investigate the issues of urbanization.
 "The program is designed to help children realize that most of the world's cities are environments in decay, to help them understand the underlying causes of this global problem and to encourage them to play an active role in helping them to solve the crisis," says Stanfel.
 The Oct. 13 television presentation will be conducted as part of a conference organized by the International Council for Educational Media (ICEM) held in Orlando, Fla. VIRTUAL CITIES will emphasize content and inter-cultural communications, putting technology at the service of education.
 "Unlike most current virtual reality applications, which emphasize the solitary and fantasy aspects of this new medium, VIRTUAL CITIES will apply the qualities of documentary film-making, computer innovations, satellite technology and educational broadcasting to forge a new learning medium for the Information Age," asserts Stanfel. "Our approach doesn't require complex video helmets and electronic gloves, just an inquiring mind and the desire to explore new worlds."
 The children participating in the VIRTUAL CITIES demonstration will be located in the Telesat Canada studios in Ottawa, the "electronic classroom" at the University of Central Florida in Orlando and the University of Lecce in Italy. A visual database, composed of images recorded by the students, enhanced with film footage shot by NFB camera crews, will be superimposed with instructional gaming strategies, to provide the students with opportunities to explore and simulate the evolutionary development of urban space.
 Dr. Richard Cornell of the University of Central Florida in Orlando and ICEM conference organizer, emphasized that the message of the symposium is that "all nations begin to prepare themselves for a rapidly approaching 21st Century, which will bring with it unprecedented new technology, not the least of which will be the use of virtual reality as a learning tool."
 Dr. Takeshi Utsumi, President of Global University in the U.S., is coordinating the international satellite broadcast of the symposium in order to bring educators together in a "global lecture hall" to debate the creation of a Global University. According to Utsumi, the objective is to "promote awareness of the possibilities of international electronic exchange of education services using inexpensive telecommunications media."
 -0- 10/5/92
 /NOTE TO EDITORS: Information, interviews or video is available upon request/
 /CONTACT: Gerry Flahive of NFBC Toronto, 461-973-9640, or Karen Marginson of NFBC Montreal, 514-283-9410/ CO: National Film Board of Canada ST: Toronto IN: ENT SU:


LD -- NY114 -- 6857 10/05/92 23:27 EDT
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Date:Oct 5, 1992
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