GEnie LiveWire Magazine September 1995

Spotlight on
Margaret Morabito,
Director of CALC

by Jay Kee

T eachers have been romanticized and satirized for decades, in books and movies, in TV sitcoms, in songs and games and cartoon strips. Next to our parents, teachers are the single biggest influence in our lives. They have one of the toughest, most important jobs in the Known Universe. And they make less than your average politician claims in deductions.

You have to be dedicated to be a teacher; you need to have a passion for learning to be a really good one. Margaret Morabito, Director of GEnie's CALC Online Campus, has both.

Getting Hooked

Graduating with a B.A. in English and Mathematics from the University of Miami in 1972, Margaret went on to earn an M.Ed. in English Education and ESL from Keene State College, New Hampshire in 1977. She taught English at Fitchburg State College in Massachusetts before becoming a Naval officer and instructor at the Naval Academy Prep School in Newport, Rhode Island.

Although teaching was Margaret's first love, she had another passion: computers. Along with thousands of other emerging compuphiles, she hooked up with a Commodore-64. And got hooked.

Before you could say "microprocessor," Margaret was working as the Technical Editor for RUN Magazine, a C-64 publication based in Peterborough, New Hampshire. This is where she got her first taste of online computing. "I was in a perfect position to investigate the ins and outs of telecommunications networks," she explains, "viewing the electronic bulletin boards, libraries, and conference rooms from an educator's viewpoint."

It was during her tour as the Director of the Army's computer learning center in Fort Devens, Massachusetts, that she refined the marriage of personal computers to the educational environment -- a refinement that would soon become CALC, "the world's first live, interactive online tutoring and course center."

The Medium and the Message

"The Computer Assisted Learning Center (CALC) was founded in 1982 as a small, offline computer-based learning center," Margaret says. Based on the same premise as its current online campus, its objective was to provide quality academic instruction to students of all ages through the use of computers.

In 1982, she recalls, public-access networks were in their infancy. Before long, the first public online networks started popping up, and by 1984 Margaret had begun to investigate the possibilities for CALC on a national online level. "I knew that the online medium would reach many more students than a localized off-line school could," she recalls, "and realized the extraordinary potential of telecommunications for education."

In 1986, that potential became a reality. The Online Division of CALC was launched on the (now gone but fondly-remembered) QuantumLink network for Commodore computers. The CALC Tutoring Center was soon followed by the CALC Course Center. The response was overwhelming. As Margaret puts it: "The CALC operation proved very quickly that there was a demand for online courses and that people appreciated being able to access these courses from the convenience of their homes."

As demand grew, Margaret looked around for a larger, more widely-available network -- one which would also allow access by students using other computers. In 1989 she found what she was looking for, and more. GEnie not only supported all major computer platforms, it was an international network that provided access to students from other countries. Not surprisingly, the CALC Online Campus (Page 175, Keyword CALC) has been a leader in online education ever since.

"I've seen my concept of the international community learning center succeed through CALC, and am pleased to see my campus used as a model upon which universities and private educational institutions around the world are designing their new distance learning programs," Margaret says. Now, with the addition of the Internet Gateway to GEnie, CALC has become a truly global learning center. Find out all about these services on GEnie Page 175 or by typing the Keyword CALC.

The Future is Now

It could well be the future of learning: A new breed of teacher, educating a new generation of students in a school without walls or classrooms or blackboards or buzzers.

On GEnie, in the cyberspace campus of CALC, the future is now. And Margaret Morabito is that teacher -- a teacher with dedication, and passion. And vision.


Copyright © 1995 General Electric Company. Freely distributable when unaltered and kept intact.

Try http://genie.com/livewire/lw9509/morabito.html for original article on Genie's Web site.
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