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 VOL. 23, NO. 11DECEMBER 5, 1997 

AT&T Grant Brings Technology to Schools in Harlem and NYC

Two Centers at Columbia Will Run Digital Multimedia Programs


The AT&T Foundation has donated $200,000 to Columbia's New Media Technology Center and the Institute for Learning Technologies at Teachers College to bring digital multimedia to disadvantaged schoolchildren in Harlem and elsewhere in New York.

  The funds will advance efforts to develop curricula that integrate new media technologies. A pilot example is Digital Dante, a web site developed at the Institute for Learning Technologies that lets students explore Dante's The Divine Comedy through text, images, historical references and word games.

  "In the first year, we will develop hardware and software prototypes suitable for use in participating classrooms," said Shih-Fu Chang, associate professor of electrical engineering and a co-principal investigator. "There is also provision for a training seminar for teachers."

  The Center, based in the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, is Columbia's effort to develop everyday applications of advanced new media techniques. Among the technologies to be adapted for educational use under the AT&T grant are several multimedia search tools developed by Chang's group: VisualSEEk and VideoQ, to search images and video according to visual content; WebSEEk, to search the Internet for images, and WebClip, to edit compressed video on a web site. Also to be adapted are new object-oriented video editing techniques developed by Alexandros Eleftheriadis, assistant professor of electrical engineering, to add new objects, themselves already in motion, to existing video.

  In addition to Chang and Eleftheriadis, Robbie McClintock, professor of education and co-director of the Institute for Learning Technologies, is a principal investigator in the project. A consortium he co-directs, called the Eiffel Project, will bring the new media software to more than 80 public schools in Harlem and Upper Manhattan, the South Bronx, Queens, downtown Brooklyn and Newburgh, N.Y.

  The Eiffel Project has received a grant of $7 million over five years from the U.S. Department of Education, on behalf of the New York City Board of Education. The consortium is working to demonstrate how children contending with poverty, discrimination, and urban crowding can achieve world-class learning standards by using advanced digital information.