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OUSC gets learning grant

Ohio University and local high school students will benefit from a recently-awarded federal grant.

Monday, June 18, 2001

Ohio University and local high school students will benefit from a recently-awarded federal grant. Secretary of Agriculture Ann M. Veneman announced last week the awarding of a $468,000 Department of Agriculture (USDA) Distance Learning grant for Ohio University Southern Campus.

The grant is part of a $15 million announcement, providing grant assistance to 42 Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) projects in 20 states and American Samoa.

"By joining together and creating greater access to modem technology in rural areas, we are opening the door for a world of new opportunities for our nation’s rural youth," Mrs. Veneman said.

The USDA grant will provide video-conferencing equipment and wireless laptops for university and high school sites so that students can use "distance learning" – a innovative use of technology where students in one place can listen and learn from teachers or other students elsewhere, even across the globe.

Ohio University Southern Campus, Shawnee State University, and eight local school districts in four Ohio counties propose a distance learning project that will benefit nearly 250,000 people, according to the grant.

Students will use technologies that are typical of high-tech businesses and industries, thereby gaining confidence in their abilities to participate and compete in challenging careers, Mrs. Veneman said.

Because they can use machines capable of real-time communication, they will also be able to access new resources and participate with other area classrooms, partner colleges, state and national networks, and interactive Web sites with the click of a mouse, the grant stated.

Practicing teachers will be able to participate in professional development activities, and will link to student teachers’ practice sessions to incorporate the modeling of appropriate techniques. For example, an area-wide virtual community of teachers and learners will be established to promote innovation in teaching and the sharing of best practices.

"I am pleased that the Ohio University application was approved for funding allowing Southern Ohio rural areas to benefit from Rural Utilities Service technology programs," said Randall Hunt, state director of USDA Rural Development in Ohio.

In the long run, the academic needs of students in these small communities will be enhanced through telecommunications links with other schools and distance learning networks, Mrs. Veneman said.