by Gretchen Kell
In the near future, a high school student at a computer in rural Coalinga will be able to find and work with a tutor 160 miles away at Berkeley.
A Lodi teacher with no money for class outings will get the chance, via computer, to take students on an electronic field trip through the human brain--a multimedia tour offered by Lawrence Hall of Science.
Community college students hoping to attend a four-year institution but frustrated by the academic and financial demands of transferring will be able to ask their computer for available resources to help them go on.
A pilot service project, the Electronic Mentoring, Teaching and Information Resource Network, intends by June 1996 to make the vast resources of Berkeley available by electronic access to California students and teachers who need them most.
Target groups selected for the project include urban and rural disadvantaged, minority and disabled students in grades K-12, community colleges and universities, and their teachers and counselors.
Specific target communities include Coalinga High school--a rural school in a low-income, mostly Hispanic Central California community, 18 troubled urban schools in the Bay Area, and three schools in the Diocese of Oakland, where many underrepresented minorities send their children.
With financial backing from Pacific Bell, the project--one of the first of its kind--aims to create an electronic community of people seeking and sharing instruction, communication, counseling, men-toring and consulting through technology.
"The program will be unique in both the scope of services offered and the number of students served," said project manager Lisa Kala. It comprises elements that have proved to be effective--outreach, transition assistance, peer advising, counseling and academic advising, computer skills enhancement, faculty mentorships, research experience and graduate preparation, she said.
The network, created by the Graduate School of Education, will link the campus with eight K-12 school districts, six community colleges, three California State University campuses, science museums, public libraries and other participants.
The California Research and Education Network (CalREN), a trust of Pacific Bell, is financing 81 digital communications lines in the participating schools, libraries and higher education institutions. Pacific Bell created the $25 million trust in 1993 to encourage the creation of high-speed data communications applications to run on the information superhighway.
The project is managed by a Berkeley work group that includes representatives from the Graduate School of Education, Information Systems and Technology, the Academic Achievement Division and the Center for Extreme Ultraviolet Astrophysics.