President Clinton has ordered agencies to beef up the educational resources they provide on the Internet.
In a memorandum to department and agency heads issued on Saturday, the President said they should spend the next three months determining "what resources you can make available that would enrich the Internet as a tool for teaching and learning." Then within six months, Clinton said, agencies should unveil new or expanded online educational services.
The President's order came after he and Vice President Gore talked to students in Los Angeles and Hartford, Conn., using videoconferencing software installed on a computer in the White House for the first time. The event was part of the second annual "Net Day," in which volunteers work to wire classrooms to the Internet.
"Once we reach our goal of linking our schools to the Internet," said Clinton in his radio address on Saturday, "for the first time in history, children in the most isolated rural schools, the most comfortable suburbs, the poorest inner-city schools, all of them will have the same access to the same universe of knowledge. That means a boy in Lake Charles, Louisiana can visit a museum halfway around the world, a girl in Juneau, Alaska can visit the Library of Congress on line."
Clinton applauded various federal online educational efforts, including the "White House for Kids" site, NASA's K-12 initiative and a Department of Education Service that provides teachers with a virtual library of more than 900 lesson plans and answers their questions within 48 hours.
In designing their new services, President Clinton said, agencies should:
- Consider a wide range of resources, "including multimedia publications, archives of primary documents, networked scientific instruments such as telescopes and supercomputers, and employees willing to serve as tele-mentors or answer student and teacher questions."
- Expand access not only to information and resources generated internally, but also those produced by the community of people that the agency works with and serves.
- Update and improve services in response to comments from teachers and students.
- Focus on identifying and developing high-quality educational resources that promote high standards of teaching and learning in core subjects.
- Make sure the material they develop is accessible to people with disabilities.