Tuesday, October 24, 2000

Colonial Williamsburg Electronic Field Trips

Explore our early American heritage through Colonial Williamsburg's Electronic Field Trips. The series uses today's technologies to discover the past. During the live, interactive broadcast events, students speak by phone to historic characters and experts. Throughout the school year, students participate in web site activities and Internet forums.

Georgia schools may watch, record and use the programs in the classroom at no cost. Schools that wish to actually participate in the live broadcasts and access the many support materials must register and pay a fee. (The fee is $100 per school per program. Discount options are available.) Support materials include a Teacher's Guide, including lesson plans, primary source documents, glossary, time lines and historical background; Web site Access, featuring web adventures, discussion forum, online voting, and email; access to the 1-800 number for call-ins during the live broadcast; colorful poster; introductory video; and tips for teacher booklets. To register call 1-800-761-8331 or visit www.history.org/trips/.

Seven live field trips are scheduled to air on PeachStar's Channel 410 this school year. The first is "Missions To America," which airs 1-2 PM, Thursday, October 5. On this field trip, students travel to America's first English settlement, a French Great Lakes trading post and a Spanish mission in the Southwest to explore how different European nations colonized America.

Saturday, October 21, 2000

Experiencing Technical Difficulties?

Help Is Available

The PeachStar Satellite Network reaches more than 2,000 locations across Georgia including public schools, colleges, universities, regional public libraries and other state agency offices. All PeachStar sites are provided Help Desk and Maintenance services supporting the operation of the local satellite receiver system. These services are provided through Convergent Media Systems (CMS), a private vendor under contract to PeachStar.

What Your Help Desk Services Include
All technical problems with the satellite system should be reported promptly to the Help Desk. Technical Service Coordinators are available to provide help by telephone from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday. The toll free number for the Help Desk is 1-800-877-7805.

In most cases the Technical Service Coordinator will be able to solve problems over the telephone. In instances where the problem is not resolved by phone, the Technical Service Coordinator may order a field service call.

Field Service Calls
If the Technical Service Coordinator determines that a field service call is required, a technician can be dispatched to the site pending whatever proper approval is required at the local level. Schools may or may not be required to pay a fee for the service call, depending on whether the technical problem and the services rendered are covered by PeachStar's contract with CMS.

What Is Covered:
Under normal wear and tear, the following components are covered for repair or replacement:

* Ku-band LNB
* C-band LNB
* Corotor
* Actuator Arm
* IF and RF cable connectors
* Chaparral or Drake analog receivers
* General Instrument DSR 4200C digital receivers

The service also covers re-peaking, realigning or reshaping the parabolic of the satellite antenna as necessary. All labor associated with repairing or replacing covered items is included.

What Is Not Covered
("Out of Scope" Services)
The following items or situations are not covered:

* Damage due to the installation of any video distribution or satellite-related equipment if that installation was not performed by a CMS technician
* Damage due to servicing of the satellite equipment in any way by other than a CMS technician
* Damage due to renovations or construction
* Vandalism
* Negligence
* Force Majeure or Acts of God (lightning or storm damage, etc.)

Again, if a field service call is ordered, and the service technician discovers that the problem is due to an "out of scope" cause, the site may be charged for material and labor, as applicable.

Help Desk

If you ever have questions about what work is covered or if you would like more information, feel free to call John Fawcett, Project Manager at Convergent Media Systems, at (404) 231-8697 or 1-800-877-7805, the toll-free Help Desk number.

You may also call Bix Doughty of PeachStar Education Services at (404) 685-2566; outside the Atlanta area call toll free at 1-888-501-8960.

If you need help with your satellite receiving equipment, call The Satellite Help Desk. Monday-Friday 7:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. at 1-800-877-7805.

Saturday, October 7, 2000

PeachStar's Neighbors

Reminder: Georgia Public Broadcasting is not the only source of quality instructional programming on satellite TelStar 4. South Carolina Educational Television (SCETV) and Louisiana Public Broadcasting (LPB) also use T4, and, thanks to a mutual agreement between GPB and the other states, your IRDs should already be mapped and authorized to receive the South Carolina and Louisiana schedules. To check out the educational programming offered by these agencies, just change the channel on your IRD.

* SCETV channels are numbered in the 300 series.
* LPB channels are numbered in the 200 series.

Friday, October 6, 2000

PeachStar Survey Summary

Customer satisfaction is extremely important to PeachStar, and we are constantly seeking comments, criticisms and suggestions from educators, to help us determine ways to better serve Georgia classrooms. In March 2000, PeachStar mailed surveys to Media Centers at 1,874 Georgia public schools. The purpose of the survey was to determine use of, and satisfaction with, PeachStar programming and services. More than 1,200 media specialists completed and returned the questionnaires - a return rate of approximately 65 percent. We received surveys from 734 elementary schools, 216 middle schools, 220 high schools, 14 middle/high schools, six K-12 schools and 11 schools whose grade levels we were not able to determine.

* 90 percent of all schools indicated they use the PeachStar Satellite Network receiving equipment which the state installed in Georgia public schools seven years ago. As for the 10 percent who do not use the equipment, three main reasons were given:
1) Their equipment is broken
2) Their school doesn't have the equipment
3) They don't know how to use the equipment.
* According to the survey, Georgia Stories is by far the most popular series offered over the satellite network. Fifty-nine percent of all the responding schools and 95 percent of middle schools use the series. SALSA, Count On It!, Transitions, GALAXY, Integrated Science, NASA Connect, and Teachers' Workshop also fared well in the survey.
* Media specialists were asked to judge how their teachers would rate PeachStar programming. Zero percent said "Poor," 5 percent said "Fair," 32 percent said "Good," 46 percent said "Very Good," and 18 percent said "Excellent."
* Media specialists were asked to judge how their students would rate PeachStar programming. Zero percent said "Poor," 5 percent said "Fair," 37 percent said "Good," 44 percent said "Very Good," and 14 percent said "Excellent."
* Forty-two percent of the responding media specialists said they had used PeachStar's Video On Request service. Of those who had used the service, 2 percent rated it "Poor," 3 percent said "Fair," 20 percent said "Good," 34 percent said "Very Good," and 41 percent said "Excellent."
* Virtually all of the responding media specialists said they received their annual PeachStar Program Guide. Zero percent rated the Guide "Poor," 5 percent said "Fair," 22 percent said "Good," 40 percent said "Very Good," and 32 percent said "Excellent."
* Virtually all of the responding media specialists said they received their monthly bundles of PeachStar Pipeline. Zero percent rated the newsletter "Poor," 5 percent said "Fair," 22 percent said "Good," 40 percent said "Very Good," and 33 percent said "Excellent."
* Sixty-two percent of the responding media specialists said they had visited PeachStar's web site. Of those, zero percent rated it "Poor," 2 percent said "Fair," 23 percent said "Good," 42 percent said "Very Good," and 32 percent said "Excellent."

In addition to answering our specific questions, respondents were asked to write down any comments they wished to offer concerning PeachStar services; nearly 700 media specialists did just that. Some findings:

* PeachStar's blockfeed scheduling format is very popular.
* The ID slates that we have put at the beginning of every program are helpful.
* Some schools receive PeachStar print materials late. (Based on this response, the print and distribution schedule for Pipeline has been revised. We hope every school is now receiving Pipeline well before the first of the month.)
* There is a need for more programming designed for grades 9-12. (This will be a priority for us as we begin to line up programming for next year.)
* A special thanks to the 91 folks who simply told us to "Keep up the good work!"

We appreciate everyone who took time from their busy schedule to complete the questionnaire and return it to PeachStar.