A $247,300 grant from the state will enable Southern Utah State College to participate in a major program to improve computer literacy among public school students.

The Utah Educational Technology Initiative (ETI), as planned, is a four-year, state-financed effort that will devote $15 million per year to upgrade computer training in the state's public school system. About 10 percent of the amount, $1.5 million per year, will go to state colleges and universities involved in teacher education.According to Lee Montgomery, associate professor of education at SUSC, the plan is a joint effort of the state, education and business to bring Utah students to a higher level of computer literacy.

Business participation is coming from a variety of sources, Montgomery said, including such corporations as IBM and Apple. IBM has committed $20 million in equipment discounts and services in addition to the state funding.

"I don't know of anywhere else that something this far-reaching has been tried," Montgomery said. "The whole idea of ETI is to infuse technology at all levels."

SUSC formed a committee to apply the funding on campus to departments involved in teacher education. The funding will be in the form of hardware and software. As part of the program, SUSC is also committing $86,000 in matching funds this year.

"The plan we came up with was a group effort that involves just about everybody," Montgomery said.

New stations will be added in the library and to upgrade computer drafting for industrial education. The first computers, due to arrive in a couple of weeks, will be used by faculty members involved in education to improve skills and for classroom management. The bulk of this year's funding, however, will be used for a teacher education lab, which is scheduled for installation in late May.

Altogether, 25 MacIntosh and five IBM computers will be added this year, operating off the college's campus-wide system. In addition to enhancing the ability of SUSC's faculty to teach computer, in-house training for public school teachers will be incorporated into the program and new teacher graduates from the Division of Education will enter the job market with upgraded skills.