Interactive University: The Pledge Online

by Kathleen Scalise

Kids can now track satellites across the sky, teleconference with campus mentors and download field trips when they log in with Berkeley's new Interactive University.

The effort, the technology arm of the Berkeley Pledge, is placing the campus's trove of knowledge in the hands of children via the Internet.

"It's an enormously exciting project," said the Vice Chancellor and Provost Carol Christ at a demonstration and planning meeting May 9. "The Interactive University will put our resources more at the disposal of teachers in the K-12 schools."

The effort is the work of a loose confederacy of 20 units on campus ranging from the Haas School of Business to the Museum of Paleontology and the Institute for International Studies.

The partners have one thing in common: a passion to move knowledge out of the ivory tower and into schools, communities and small businesses.

Through the network's vastness "our resources, our people, our expertise, our libraries and our considerable experience in outreach activities" can now match "our will to involve students at every level of community service," said Professor Bernard Sadoulet, director of the Center for Particle Astrophysics and a partner in the project.

The electronic outreach effort, already reaching thousands, will grow substantially as more units come on board under the leadership of Information Systems and Technology, he said.

"I believe there are many more faculty members we are not yet in touch with," he said. He encouraged colleagues to consider working with the Interactive University.

The impact of their outreach efforts could be increased exponentially by making their materials available on the Internet, he said.

It comes down to being able to reach out to members of the community in ways and at a scale never before possible, said David Greenbaum, project director for the Interactive University.

"Relationships and access are the key. The World Wide Web, for example, can allow the university to provide materials to thousands of individuals.

"But equally important are Internet tools like video-conferencing which in the future will allow a Berkeley student to build a meaningful relationship with a high school student who might otherwise have been too far away to work with."

The Interactive University is looking for class projects to develop web materials in a variety of subject areas and volunteers to train teachers, mentor K-12 students, help in community-based organizations and install networks.

For more details, contact Greenbaum at 642-7429, send email to or visit the Interactive University web site at


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