Making Classrooms More Couch Potato Friendly

Multimedia technology, which blends video, sound, and graphics, holds immense possibilities. But it has yet to catch on big in corporations. The reason: Many businesspeople see the systems simply as expensive toys. But high school teachers view multimedia as a worthwhile way to stimulate learning among students--even though school budgets across the nation are shrinking. "Teachers can't compete with what kids watch at home," says David Brittain, director of educational technology for Florida, which recently spent about $1.5 million to equip 2,300 high schools with laser-disk players. Texas and California are also promoting multimedia for their school systems.

When connected to personal computers, the laser-disk players become interactive multimedia setups. While viewing a documentary on the 1960s, for instance, a student can type in Martin Luther King Jr.--even if misspelled--and the computer will select and show one of King's speeches. Fully indexed laser disks for history, politics, science, and health courses are now available from such sources as the Discovery Channel and ABC News.

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