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Federal Grant Supports Windows on Maine Teacher Education Project at UMaine, MPBC, Maine State Museum

Contact: Contact: Raymond H. Fogler Library, University of Maine: Marilyn Lutz, 207-581-1658; Maine Public Broadcasting Corp.: Mary Helene DuRoss, 207-783-9101; Maine State Museum: J.R. Phillips, 207-287-2303; IMLS: Mamie Bittner 202-606-8339

ORONO– A gold mine of information about Maine’s culture and natural history will be made available electronically to classrooms throughout the state as a result of a federal grant to Fogler Library at the University of Maine, the Maine State Museum and the Maine Public Broadcasting Corporation. The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has awarded a $470,305 grant to make digital resources about Maine accessible over the high speed broadband network that includes the Internet.

The project Windows on Maine will focus on two major educational initiatives produced by Maine Public Broadcasting and partners. HOME: The Story of Maine, is a series of 13 half-hour television programs about Maine’s history; Quest: Investigating Our World is a series of 24 hour-long programs about the natural and environmental sciences in New England. Both television series are accompanied by in-depth website content and companion classroom material. Windows on Maine will store and make accessible these two exemplary education programs, along with supporting historical and scientific digital media gathered from partner collections.

Materials will be distributed in real time and be accessible on-demand to the laptop computers of 7th and 8th grade students, personal computers in high school classrooms, and to others from outside the state over the University of Maine’s Internet2 connection.

Library-Museum Collaboration grants support innovative projects that model how museums and libraries can work together to expand their services to the public, with emphasis on serving the community, using technology, or enhancing education. The “Windows on Maine” proposal was in response to a special “Request for Proposals to Develop Innovative Approaches to the Use of Broadband Technologies for Learning.”

Maine is a pioneer in creating broadband telecommunications infrastructure capable of distributing digital information to a broad range of constituents over all areas of the state. Its statewide ATM fiber optic based network, reaching over 80 high schools, the Bangor Public Library and the Maine State Library is one of the most technologically advanced networks available. The statewide network is connected nationally to the high-speed Internet2 system that links research universities and government laboratories.

“This project will demonstrate how broadband technology can be used to broaden access to digital resources that support an interactive education program,” said Marilyn Lutz, director library information technology planning at Fogler Library and a principal investigator for the project. “By leveraging the delivery power of broadband technology with digital collections from Maine’s cultural agencies, this collaborative effort promises to provide sustainable support to Maine’s educators in all parts of the state, even the most remote and economically under developed locations, as never before.”

According to Mary Anne Alhadeff, president and CEO of Maine PBS, “The advent of statewide digital broadcasting creates an exceptional opportunity for the key organizations with digital resources to positively impact Maine’s 18,000 classroom teachers and, in turn, the 224,000 young people they reach each year. Public television stations, with evolving multicasting and datacasting capabilities, and cultural organizations must begin to rely upon new partners to help develop meaningful resources for this increased distribution capacity.”

The project will also offer professional development training and materials to teachers in support of integrating digital resources into their classrooms. Maine Public Broadcasting’s National Teacher Training Institute, designed to advance an understanding of how to interactively use digital resources (historical film footage, facsimile original documents, photographs and oral history files) in the classroom, will serve to integrate these resources into the learning process.

J.R. Phillips, director the Maine State Museum sees Windows on Maine as a unique opportunity “to demonstrate the profound impact of technology on the education process when it is used to unlock the power of collections in museums and libraries and the broader distribution of public broadcasting resources. It will serve as a model for constructing a new, more dynamic framework for learning,” he said.

“IMLS’ National Leadership Grants foster the best thinking in our fields about how museums and libraries can further enrich community, academic, family and individual lives across the country,” said Robert Martin, director of the institute. “The grants we make will help develop leading-edge technologies to expand access to collections and educational programs, support original research to improve professional practices, and form powerful partnerships between libraries and museums and other community organizations. It is our hope that these grants will provide models for libraries and museums throughout the nation to emulate tomorrow.”

IMLS is a federal grant making agency located in Washington DC that fosters leadership, innovation and a lifetime of learning by supporting museums and libraries.

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