Cable TV Brings UMass Amherst Classroom to Community Living Rooms

AMHERST, Mass. - A pilot program at the University of Massachusetts will bring the classroom to the community’s living rooms starting in late January, using cable television. Cable television viewers in the Springfield area will be able to select - along with sporting events or movies - computer science professor Jim Kurose''s introductory, non-credit class, "Understanding and Exploring the Internet."

Kurose, who has won three awards for outstanding teaching, will teach a two-hour class covering issues such as electronic mail, the World Wide Web, computer networks, the future of the Internet, and home access. In addition to teaching, Kurose also conducts research on topics such as real-time and multimedia communication, computer networking and operating systems, and technology performance evaluation.

The pilot program is produced by the University’s Video Instructional Program (VIP), a division of the College of Engineering. VIP enables people who are working full-time to pursue engineering degrees by "attending" classes that are videotaped or uplinked by live satellite as they are taught before students on campus. Classes are distributed to students around the world. Students are responsible for completing all coursework, and keep in touch with professors by electronic mail, telephone office hours, and written correspondence.

VIP’s partners in the pay-per-view classroom project are Continental Cablevision and the Massachusetts Information Turnpike Initiative (MITI). Continental Cablevision is part of the nation’s third largest broadband communications provider, US WEST Media Group, which serves more than 4.8 million subscribers in 19 states. The company is involved in cable and telephone wireless communications, and directory information services. MITI, which is owned by the state and managed by the University, is aimed at promoting the rapid development and deployment of a new generation of public information services, using the University''s high-speed fiber optic system, which runs along the Massachusetts Turnpike.

The fee for tuning in to the pay-per-view class is $14.95. While viewers of Kurose=s class will not receive academic credit, they will be able to access a web site geared toward the class. If the pilot program is well-received, it may be expanded to other markets and include degree-track courses.

The program will be available on Continental Cablevision as follows:

* Mon. Jan. 20, 7-9 p.m.
* Wed. Jan. 22, 7-9 p.m.
* Sat. Jan 25, 1-3 p.m. and 3-5 p.m.
* Sun. Jan. 26, 1-3 p.m. and 3-5 p.m.
* Mon. Jan. 27, 7-9 p.m.
* Wed. Jan. 29, 7-9 p.m.
* Feb. 1, 1-3 p.m. and 3-5 p.m.
* Feb. 2, 1-3 p.m. and 3-5 p.m.