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MICHIGAN BELL TO CREATE 'HOME-LEARNING' NETWORK FOR WARREN CONSOLIDATED SCHOOLS

 MICHIGAN BELL TO CREATE 'HOME-LEARNING' NETWORK
 FOR WARREN CONSOLIDATED SCHOOLS
 DETROIT, Nov. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- About 115 fourth-graders in the Warren Consolidated School District will take a step closer to the 21st century in January when Michigan Bell links their homes to their schools in a futuristic fiber-optic "home-learning" network.
 The system will bring a wide variety of educational materials -- including nature and geography videos, computerized encyclopedias and interactive-learning programs -- to their home television sets, enriching their classroom curriculum.
 With a remote control and a "mouse," the youngsters will be able to control when and how they watch the programs. Teachers can assign students homework based on the programming.
 "These youngsters will have on-line access to some of the best educational video programming in the world -- without even leaving their homes," said Harry Semerjian, Michigan Bell's vice president of corporate planning. "This is the only home-learning network of its kind in the United States."
 Programming will be selected by educators from the district. Michigan Bell and its parent company, Ameritech, will operate the network using "video-on-demand" technology.
 "We've been investing heavily in new technology for the classroom to prepare students for the challenges of the 21st century," said Dr. George DePillo, district superintendent. "Now, this project is allowing us to take our state-of-the-art learning right into the home. It's a very exciting opportunity."
 Fourth-graders at Thorpe and Jefferson elementary schools in Sterling Heights will be participating in the project. They'll use the system again next year, in fifth grade.
 The school district is arranging for a grant from a charitable foundation to cover the basic monthly charges for each family, approximately $4 to $6 a month. Michigan Bell will bill the families for usage beyond the basic allotment. There will be no installation charges, and no charges of any kind to the district.
 "The Ameritech family of companies is committed to finding innovative ways to use advanced telecommunications to improve education," Michigan Bell's Semerjian said. "This project will help us gain important knowledge and experience in support of that goal. This is a giant step forward, and children are the beneficiaries."
 As recently as a year ago, outdated government regulations kept Michigan Bell from creating this home-learning network, Semerjian said.
 But the Michigan Telecommunications Act, signed by Gov. John Engler in late 1991; the Federal Communications Commission's recent ruling allowing phone companies to provide "video dial tone"; and a federal district court's removal of information services restrictions on Bell companies paved the way for the project.
 "If more regulations -- such as those that restrict us from programming and owning content -- were modernized, we'd be better able to create these kinds of networks for hundreds more school districts," Semerjian said.
 Michigan Bell is Michigan's premier telecommunications provider, serving more than 3 million customers. Its $7 billion network carries 50 million calls a day -- from conversations between friends to streams of computer data.
 Ameritech also is the parent of the Bell companies serving Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin as well as several other information-related companies, both foreign and domestic, providing mobile communications, directory publishing, audiotex services, systems integration and lease financing. Ameritech's 1991 revenues were $10.8 billion.
 -0- 11/11/92
 /CONTACT: Phil Jones, 313-223-7194, or Dave Ellis, 313-223-7192, both of Michigan Bell; or Bob Freehan of Warren Consolidated Schools, 313-825-2422/ CO: Michigan Bell; Warren Consolidated Schools ST: Michigan IN: TLS SU:


DH-JG -- DE009 -- 9669 11/11/92 10:51 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 11, 1992
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