Technology filled distance in learning decades agoMerging education with the latest technology is now an everyday practice; however, 20 years ago it was a new adventure for students and instructors.
Merging education with the latest technology is now an everyday practice; however, 20 years ago it was a new adventure for students and instructors.
Members of the Northern Wisconsin Educational Communications System Consortium have been using video distance learning to educate students of all ages since it began providing 2-way video communication using fiber optic telephone lines back in October 1992.
Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in Rice Lake, Wis., assumed the management role of NWECS in July 1992. The original 13 members were WITC campuses in Rice Lake, Shell Lake, Superior and New Richmond, CESA 12, and high schools in Bayfield, Washburn, Ashland, Superior, and Drummond, South Shore High School, and the University of Wisconsin-Superior.
Today, NWECS boasts a membership of 40 K-12 and higher education sites, running Interactive Television classes day and night on the State’s BadgerNet Converged Network. For a full listing of NWECS sites, please go to www.nwecs.net
Hours of network usage in 2003 totaled 2,184 compared to over 20,000 hours of network usage during this past school year.
Traditional and non-traditional students within NWECS use video distance learning to earn credits from the ease of their school’s ITV room, eliminating travel and providing opportunities for class offerings not available on site. High school students can also graduate with a number of transferable general education credits before attending college.
This school year, the NWECS Consortium is running 67 credit classes over the network, serving 46 different high school districts in Wisconsin. Class offerings range from a host of Advanced Placement courses to four different foreign languages to health care career courses. NWECS members use both their ITV room and/or mobile cart units to participate in classes via video, connecting student to teacher.
New member, Rice Lake School District, will be using a fleet of cart units for instruction in their upcoming Northern Lakes Regional Academy.
The next step in the world of ITV is upgrading from standard definition (SD) to high definition (HD), with a host of useful technology enhancements, like digital recording of classes and participation from desktop and hand-held devices.
NWECS school districts of Phillips, Florence, Crandon, Wabeno, Pembine, Laona, Goodman and White Lake have already completed the upgrade. WITC will soon have 12 HD rooms and UW Superior has HD ready rooms awaiting the final conversion.