Teachers and students are experiencing classes from Mississippi State University professors in an almost typical setting. The only difference is that the pupils are scattered across America while the professors stay in Starkville. MSU is currently involved in producing teleconferences and telecourses which are made possible by an uplink satellite system established six months ago.
According to David Hutto, director of the University Television Center, the studio is connected to an uplink which transmits to a satellite enabling the programs to be broadcast across North America. Hutto said MSU is the only university in Mississippi that has an uplink and plans are being made to establish 150200 downlinks in the state's high schools and colleges.
Downlinks have already been established at the University of Southern Mississippi and the University of Mississippi so they can receive telecommunication from MSU. The teleconferences are each short term learning experiences. Hutto said there are a number of teleconferences being planned by different groups within the university that are trying to receive funding.
Although telecourses have already been given, MSU held its first teleconference Thursday entitled “AIDS in the College Community: From Crisis to Management.” MSU received this downlinked conference along with other universities across the country. Brian Hoots, audio video producer at the University Television Center, said MSU received a grant to start the project. This program is part of the Star Schools Project which is federally funded. Hoots said, "This is an effort to provide distant leaming to rural schools throughout America."
According to Hoots, the first telecourse was offered in October. The course was taught by Regina Procell, a doctoral candidate. The course was for junior high school science teachers to help them become better prepared in advanced math and science classes. MSU is part of the TI-IN network which reaches audiences in 28 states. Hoots said students in an advanced television production course were used as a production crew for the telecourses. The students spent six weeks preparing for the first live program which aired Oct. 4.
Students had opportunities to be floor directors, assistant directors and cameramen as well as assisting in pre-production and post-production every Wednesday afternoon when the program aired. Beginning in January, three new telecourses will be offered.
“Demonstration and Concepts for Physics Teachers l” will be taught by Sandra Harpole, assistant professor of Physics and Astronomy. “Geology; Science of the Living Earth" will be taught by Mario Caputo, assistant professor of Geology.
Joe Thompson, an aerospace professor, will be teaching a pilot course in conjunction with Oklahoma State University. Students at OSU can take this course for credit. Students in Mississippi will also be taking this class, which will include one-way video and two-way audio.
The College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Education and the Department of Continuing Education are all taking part in the telecommunications advances on campus, Hutto said.