Hand-held computers are only a phone call away - if you are a member of the Dial-A-Drill home learning system. Computer Curriculum Corporation is turning touch-tone phones into computer terminals with computer-assisted home instruction in math, spelling, and reading. After receiving a call from the CCC- 17 computer and listening to an exercise, students respond, using the telephone's own number system. A correct answer elicits an encouraging word such as ''Excellent work.'' The child can control the pace of the lesson, and the computer adjusts the level of difficulty according to the child's performance. A student's progress is recorded and communicated to parents in a monthly report.
Playing hooky in the computer age is no vacation. Several high schools in California have replaced truant officers with computers that phone the homes of students who do not show up for classes. The computer dials the number automatically from a list of absentees, delivers a six-second message, and gives parents a phone number to call. It is a boon to guidance counselors at the various school who were wasting much of their time making such calls themselves. But more to the point, the guidance counselors' calls were limited to working hours, when most parents were on the job. The computer, on the other hand, is never off duty. It calls in the evening, when parents are more likely to be home.
The cooperative education program at Northeastern University in Boston, the subject of an education page article on May 23, is only one of 1,017 such programs available on campuses nationwide. Cooperative education integrates classroom study with supervised learning experiences off campus, often in business and industry. A directory of undergraduate cooperative education programs in the United States and Canada is available, free of charge, from the National Commission for Cooperative Education. Simply send a postcard to the Commission at 360 Huntington Avenue, Boston, Mass. 02115, or call (617) 437-3778 .