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Knowledge network project.

Pacific Bell has been working with the state educational system in California for the past three years to create a public network of teachers, students, administrators, public policymakers, and other businesses. The joint projects are categorized in three ways: distance learning and video teleconferencing; telecomputing; and technology development. Completion of the projects can be expected to have a great impact on library services at both the K-12 and higher education level. Some of the projects are described here and will be detailed in future issues of

Computers in Libraries.

Distance Learning and Video Teleconferencing

* Classroom facilities at Tehachapi High School have been linked with California State University (CSU), Bakersfield, classes. Working together, the high school and the college are providing distance learning by using two-way, full-motion interactive video over telephone lines. A similar distance learning project using two-way, full-motion interactive video over telephone lines is underway at CSU Dominguez Hills and a number of Los Angeles area (Compton) high schools.

* Together with AT&T Network Systems, Pacific Bell is conducting Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) educational trials at CSU Chico and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo [for a refresher course on ISDN, see Mike Schuyler's October column]. At Cal Poly, the university will soon be using ISDN in a two-way interactive video distance learning connection between the campus and a local high school. In addition, the two companies and IBM are involved in an online data retrieval trial. The Chico trial involves point-to-point and point-tomulti point two-way interactive video using multimedia.

* An Advanced Telecommunications Platform (ATP) is being implemented in conjunction with Northern Telecom and California State University, San Marcos. Its purpose is to create new telecommunications applications for higher education. CSU, San Marcos, plans to serve as a community resource for local schools by providing distance learning opportunities for the two area community colleges, Palomar and Mira Costa.

* In conjunction with the Chancellor's Office of the California State University System and the Office of the President of the University of California, Pacific Bell is developing administrative applications of video teleconferencing as well as distance learning applications.

Telecomputing

* Through the development of a Knowledge Network Gateway, K-12 schools will be provided with access to a broad array of low-cost and easy to use educational services for students, teachers, and administrators. Initial applications are expected to include Internet access, computer bulletin boards, and electronic mail. Teacher training will be a key component of Knowledge Network Gateway development.

* Davis High School's computer lab is connected to UC Davis's Internet system using an Advanced Digital Network (ADN) circuit from Pacific Bell. Internet also connects UC Davis, and now the high school, to all major international computer networks that are used for educational and research information exchange. Similar programs are being activated in Sacramento, San Francisco, Riverside, and Union City.

* Pacific Bell is working with the Sacramento Unified School District in implementing a 'wiring of the schools' project. The project calls for wiring all classrooms for telecommunications service and use of Pacific Bell's Homework Hotline for parent-teacher communications.

Technology Development

* Along with the Chancellor's Office of the Cal State system, Pacific Bell is exploring how to develop a statewide voice, video, and data network to connect all state educational institutions to information age learning resources.

* Pacific Bell is involved in two library projects of note. One is LiberNet -- the library of the future -- in cooperation with the San Francisco Public Library. The other project involves the Mendocino County Library and area American Indian organizations.

Further information is available from Michael Powell of Pacific Bell at (209) 323-5638.

PCs That Talk

Last month we looked at PCs that listen (voice recognition systems). This month we'll turn the tables to PCs that talk.

We're all familiar with the Macintosh, Commodore Amiga, Atari, and Next computers with built-in sound systems. Now it's possible for an IBM (or compatible) to offer this capability thanks to Microsoft's Windows Sound system, a combination of a plug-in audio board and software applications that work with the sound functions of Windows 3.1.

For a list price of $289, here's what it can do:

* read out the numbers in a spreadsheet;

* attach voice messages to documents or electronic mail sent 1 over a network; and

* use voice commands for computer tasks like opening a file or deleting a text.

What's it good for? Other than the obvious, some important and high-quality sound will be most appreciated when it is incorporated with computer-based videoconferencing distance learning. They can be helpful in holding an audience's attention.

What do you need? At least a fast 386SX microprocessor, 2 megabytes of system memory, a VGA monitor and a hard disk. What you get for the $289 is a 16-bit sound card; it can handle data in chunks of 16 bits at a time. Most other sound cards are 8-bit systems.

The software includes a sound system made up of two components: Voice Pilot and Quick Record. Voice Pilot allows users to perform a limited number of commands using a microphone instead of a mouse.

Quick Record employs the mike for adding voice comments or other sounds to a document such as an electronic mail message or a spreadsheet. Microsoft refers to these voice comments as "audible notes."

The system will have many library applications. For one, think of what audible notes will add to an OPAC ! Virtual Retina Display

Stand back. Joel Kollin, a research engineer at the University of Washington's Human Interface Technology Lab, is developing a device that uses lasers to create pictures on the back of your eye. He calls it a Virtual Retina Display (VRD). What's going to be so important about the new technology?

Kollin has based his research on the premise that TV as we know it is totally obsolete. He rightly points out that the technology is only in two dimensions, and these reside on the surface of some pretty bulky hardware. But our eyes, capable of comprehending three dimensions, offer greater acuity.

Kollin admits that VRD has a long way to go and is now only just about as good as television. TV screens, for example, incorporate a beam of electrons that sweep back and forth across a screen, touching phosphorescent coatings as they sweep which respond by emitting light.

VRD also incorporates a scanning beam. The difference, however, is that the VRD beam consists of a low-powered laser that stimulates photoreceptor cells on the retina.

In both TV and VRD, the projected images are composed of cells called pixels. The greater the number of pixels, the liner the resolution. Kollin research is moving along well in increasing the number of pixels that VRD can accommodate. He is close to success in matching VRD resolution with that of TVs.

If you're worried about possible eye damage, Kollin insists that the lasers won't damage your eyes. Once the resolution technology is improved and the VRD hardware is significantly reduced in size, it'll be no time before practical applications of VRD can be in place.

Perhaps, instead of visiting the virtual library via the Internet, we can don a pair a glasses and visit that library in "person."

Cyberpunk Librarians

What's a Cyberpunk Librarian? Pick up a copy of LITA's recent Thinking Robots, an Aware Internet, and Cyberpunk Librarians. The book represents background essays that were prepared for the LITA (Library and Information Technology Association/American Library Association) 1992 President's Program. Most essays are brief and provocatively written, and this offer a good background for defining the librarian of the future. ISBN 0-8389-7625-5. The book is available from the American Library Association for $22 plus $4.75 shipping and handling (50 East Huron Street, Chicago, IL 30312, [800] 545-2433).
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Title Annotation:Information Technology; Pacific Bell project with California schools
Author:Nelson, Nancy Melin
Publication:Computers in Libraries
Date:Dec 1, 1992
Words:1279
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