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Rural schools get to update distance learning equipment with the help of grant money

January 14,2012 by: admin

North Dakota Educational Technology Council will receive a grant of $392,277 from USDA Distance learning and Telemedicine Program and the grant money will then be disbursed to schools such as New Salem, Hazen, and Steele-Dawson and Garrison etc. Around 46 schools will get to upgrade their distance learning equipment with the help of the grant money. Cameras, microphones, television sets, and other outdated transmission equipment would be replaced with new ones.

With the help of new equipment, schools will be able to provide a conventional classroom experience, as they will be equipped with bigger television sets. Although it is a virtual setting, it does make a huge difference. Jasper Schneider, state director, USDA Rural Development also stated that this would help build a better connection between students and teachers and will also improve their learning experience. Since these are all teachers and high school children, this improved technology will certainly help teachers have better control over their students even though they are in different geographic locations.

Around 40 high school student will be taking through the interactive sessions this year, stated Steve Brannan, superintendent, Garrison Public Schools. At the moment, the school makes use of its two video labs for around 12 periods during the day. With the distance learning program, students can take classes in art, foreign language, sociology, psychology, speech, science, composition, and math, stated Brannan. This may not have been possible otherwise. Knowledge of foreign language is necessary in order to gain eligibility for state scholarships, added Brannan. At least eleven out of twelve students were availing dual credit courses through the ITV courses this year.

According to Brannan, the school had plans to update one of the video labs with the help of the grant money. The 8 large television sets that occupy space will be replaced with flat screen television with improved sound systems. Since the HD TVs are capable of showing split screens, the number of television sets would be cut down. Every day, there are over 3,000 students from North Dakota, who participate in the video classes and there may be 7 classrooms participating at any given point in time. Bill Strasser is the director of Great Western Network. The ITV classes for North Dakota schools are coordinated by this network. The classes have seen a tremendous growth in the last couple of decades. The grant money will help these schools to upgrade and maintain standards in the future as well.

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