by Arash Ghadishah
Berkeley has long been a meeting point for scholars and students from around the globe. Now the university's technology-based outreach is making its store of resources -- including its outstanding minds -- available to communities near and far.
The Interactive University Project, the technology partner of the Berkeley Pledge, involves about 30 departments and several hundred professors, staff and students.
It is one of four projects nationwide funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce. The intent is to serve as a model for using the Internet as an educational outreach tool between universities and K-12 schools.
The Internet is being used to provide online access to university experts through chat sessions and video conferencing. Berkeley students are also serving as on-line mentors to college-bound students via email and video conferencing.
Information on Interactive University activities and how to participate is posted on the project web site, http://iu.berkeley.edu:7017/.
Berkeley's online library resources also lead the way in technological outreach. The Berkeley Library Home Page, http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/, is a comprehensive guide to the university's educational resources.
It offers links to gopher-based Melvyl and Gladys search databases, allowing users anywhere in the world to find titles from Berkeley's over 8 million volume collection. The library will unveil a web version of the databases by mid-semester.
The Berkeley Digital Library SunSITE http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/ has been hailed by University Librarian Peter Lyman as a "communication center for the library of the future."
It offers digital collections to manuscripts and a link to finding aids for archival collections. Browsers can also view a welcome and introduction to the library from Lyman in a QuickTime video format.
The Berkeley Art Museum Pacific Film Archive web site, http://www.bampfa.berkeley.edu/, was cited in Art in America magazine as "...among the most substantial of any American Art museum's Internet offerings."
The site receives 26,000 hits, or online visits, per month and offers browsers a taste of exhibits and extensive contextual background.
The web site works as a "jazzed-up multimedia exhibition catalog," explains Richard Rinehart, information systems manager at BAM/PFA. It provides educational context for exhibits, often through curatorial essays.
Rinehart notes that the Internet is especially valuable as an outreach tool for museums, which are bound by space, location and time.
And, when an exhibition ends its run and gives way to another, the limitless space on the Internet means that some forms of it can still be viewed and learned about for a long time to come.
The site also features a virtual "walk into" the museum gallery and theater in MPEG video clip form.