SPRINT TESTING VIDEO-ON-DEMAND FOR THE CLASSROOM
BURLINGAME, Calif., Dec. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- School buses will begin traveling America's information superhighway, thanks to a digital video distribution field trial announced today by Sprint (NYSE: FON) and the Laguna Salada Union School District in Pacifica, Calif., a suburb of San Francisco. The trial is a project of Sprint's Advanced Technology Laboratory here. The multimedia project features a "video jukebox," a high-powered computer that will enable kindergarten through fifth grade classes in the district's eight elementary schools to call up selected videos at will, without having to wait days or weeks for them. Many instructional materials will come from the California state school system. This is the first known application of video server technology in an elementary classroom environment. Another element of the distance learning project involves California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo, which will broadcast live educational material with interactive audio connections to the Laguna Salada elementary schools through the Sprint laboratory. One of the most significant features of the project is that teachers and students, working individually or in groups, will be able to create their own video presentations for use by their own classes and by others in the district. Sprint is supplying each school with recording equipment and is providing editing and production assistance at its Burlingame lab. The Laguna Salada elementary schools will have the most advanced computer and network technologies at their disposal. Sprint is connecting each school to its laboratory with fiber optic cable, to transmit information digitally by light, instead of using copper cable to send electrical, analog signals. In the schools, a "set-top box" will translate the digital signals into analog television format. A
vendor for the set-top box will be selected after the first of the year.
Sprint also is providing next-generation switching services and transport technology essential to "information superhighway" applications -- Asynchronous Transfer Mode switching technology, and Synchronous Optical Network for transport. SONET and ATM make it possible to move signals at extremely fast rates -- billions of bits of information per second -- compared to today's much slower speeds. As an example, with ATM's high speed, users can send the contents of a 400- page book across the country in only one second. Sprint has established itself as the industry leader in broadband services. The company was the first to launch commercial ATM service in August, and is deploying SONET equipment on its all-digital, fiber-optic commercial network.
Sprint is the sole provider of ATM for the
National Information Infrastructure Testbed, an industry-led coalition of corporations, universities and government agencies that is developing prototype information superhighway applications.
The capability to receive live broadcasts from the university, and to produce video programs at the schools and store them on the video server for repeated use, will have substantial benefits. It will open up exciting new approaches for teaching, such as: -- Field trips can be taped, edited and combined with other resource materials to produce "hands-on" educational videos that can be shared with other classes and with students who may have been absent. -- Lessons can be recorded in one language, then translated into other languages simply by overlaying a new voice track on the video. -- Teachers can take required and elective continuing education courses without leaving their classrooms -- and they can select the best times to view lessons. "I have a feeling we are only now scratching the surface of what this project will mean ultimately," said Dr. Marc Liebman, Laguna Salada Union School District superintendent. "There are several examples of broadcast distance learning around the United States, with students in one location and instructors in another, but this project adds an entirely different dimension with the video server." Video server technology is an important part of Sprint's multimedia future, with numerous potential uses in business, personal and classroom settings. Corporations can use it to train employees and customers, and "movies-on-demand" will likely be a big part of future home entertainment. "We feel the school classroom is particularly fertile area for video server use," said Terry Kero, director of Sprint's Advanced Technology Lab. "Kids grow up with video images and computers all around them. It's fun and, to them, it's natural. They aren't intimidated by new technologies, so we expect they will show us a thing or two as we develop this field trial. "We are looking at affordability every step of the way," Kero said. "It would do us no good to develop some gee-whiz program that nobody could afford. It's not logical to expect school systems to invest in video servers, but if they have access to them, using affordable classroom equipment, it could create almost endless opportunities for education." Laguna Salada elementary teachers will begin training with Sprint lab engineers later this month. In January the schools will receive cameras so they can begin experimenting with developing video presentations. "This is a definite departure from the norm for many teachers," Liebman said. "We want them to have plenty of time to get familiar with the equipment and with production and presentation techniques before the end of this school year." Sprint plans to have fiber installed to these schools in April so system testing can begin before the end of the school year. This pilot program officially begins next fall. Initially, each school will have one room with access to the server. Present plans call for equipping each classroom in each school during the second year. The Laguna Salada School District has approximately 2,900 students and 103 teachers in its eight elementary schools. The schools serve Pacifica, a city of 38,000, and part of neighboring San Bruno. Sprint (NYSE: FON) is a diversified international telecommunications company with more than $10 billion in annual revenues and the United States' only nationwide all-digital, fiber-optic network. Its divisions provide global long distance voice, data and video products and services, local telephone services to more than 6 million subscriber lines in 19 states, and cellular operations that serve 42 metropolitan markets and more than 50 rural service areas. -0- 12/7/93 /CONTACT: Contacts: Jim Bowman, 415-375-4338 or 913-967-3675, or Charles Fleckenstein, 913-967-2924, both of Sprint; or Diane Hail of Torme & Co., 415-956-1791, for Sprint/ (FON)
CO: Sprint ST: California IN: TLS SU:
KD-MH -- DC010 -- 5427 12/07/93 12:31 EST
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|Date:||Dec 7, 1993|
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