BALTIMORE, NOV. 12 -- By 1989, Maryland residents from St. Mary's to Cumberland may be able to take college courses at their jobs or local schools by turning on a television for classes beamed via a state satellite.
That prospect is part of a proposal, released here today at a conference of Maryland educators and business leaders, to create a statewide video network that would be used by colleges, state agencies and businesses that wanted to offer training to their employes.
Estimated to cost $4 million over five years, the Maryland Educational Video Network is the brainchild of a task force appointed in February by the State Board for Higher Education to explore ways Maryland could improve its use of instructional television -- or "telecourses" -- to provide undergraduate and graduate-level courses.
The task force concluded that a satellite network would be the most efficient way to broadcast classes to parts of the state that currently lack an array of college programs.
However, it remained unclear at today's conference when such a network might actually be created, because the task force recommended simply that the program be incorporated in the budget of the state agency that oversees all uses of telecommunications -- the Department of General Services.
The General Services secretary, Earl F. Seboda, who spoke at today's conference, said afterward he did not believe Maryland needed a permanent satellite network, because the state already is creating another kind of telecommunications system, using fiber optics, that is expected to be completed in 1991.
Seboda said a satellite network might be useful temporarily, although he did not say whether he planned to include any money for it in his budget request to the governor this year.
"That is a hitch," acknowledged Richard R. Kline, a member of the higher education board who was instrumental in creating the task force.
The network is intended, in particular, to provide engineering and other scientific courses to southern and eastern Maryland. Business leaders in those parts of the state contend the availability of televised college courses and, especially, graduate courses, would help them recruit employers to their regions.
In addition, business executives from those two regions said they would like local residents to be able to earn college degrees in technical fields without moving out of the area.
The satellite system would not be Maryland's first foray into the use of telecommunication for instruction. Currently, about 6,000 students in the state take about 300 college courses via television, according to a survey conducted by the task force. But state officials said the system is now fragmented and does not reach much beyond the Washington-Baltimore corridor.
The classes are offered primarily by the University of Maryland, which since 1980 has been broadcasting live college courses in the Washington metropolitan area.
In addition, most community colleges, including Prince George's Community College and Montgomery College, use local cable television systems to broadcast classes that are produced by campus instructors or purchased from national education companies that specialize in telecourses.