Northwood Tech has received funding from the USDA Rural Development, Rural Utility Services Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant as part of the NWECS-ERVING Collaborative Distance Learning Initiative
Northwood Technical College is updating technology in multiple classrooms with $181,043 from a USDA Rural Development, Rural Utility Services Distance Learning and Telemedicine (RUS-DLT) grant. In total, the College, and its partners, two Wisconsin distance learning consortiums - Northern Wisconsin Educational Communications System (NWECS) and Embarrass River Valley Instructional Network Group (ERVING,) have been awarded $999,480 to facilitate a $1.5 million NWECS-ERVING Collaborative Distance Learning Initiative project.
As part of the initiative, the partnership aims to replace outdated, end-of-life technology that impedes course delivery and to provide support for critical mental health telemedicine services across 38 rural school districts. The implementation of advanced distance learning technologies will enable both consortiums and Northwood Tech to further extend and enhance educational opportunities within the rural communities they serve.
For their part of the distance learning collaboration, Northwood Tech secured funding through a proposal of technology items that included the necessary audio and video equipment updates for 30 priority classrooms across all four campus locations. Replacing the outdated equipment will improve audio and video quality to better facilitate class interaction between sites, help eliminate class down-time due to technical difficulties and have new cameras that include auto framing and zoom to focus on the individual speaking in the room. These updates and adding additional technology equipment in classrooms also increase the capacity for virtual courses to take place.
“The USDA Rural Development, Rural Utility Services Distance Learning and Telemedicine (RUS-DLT) Grant is an exciting opportunity for our institution to continue to partner with K-12 institutions and CESA #12 to allow educational opportunities for students to advance career readiness upon graduation. It also provides opportunities for students to receive quality high-school and college education classes in communities that may not have easy access to programming in rural areas of the state. This grant will provide state-of-the-art technology in the classroom where it is needed,“ said Steve Decker, executive director of technology services at Northwood Tech.
According to Northwood Tech data, during the 2022-23 school year, the College used distance learning technology to facilitate 934 undergraduate courses for 5,071 students and 168 continuing education courses serving 1,401 students. These numbers also reflect the dual credit courses taken by the NWECS consortium high school students.
In total, the College and its partners will use funds from the $999,480 grant for the NWECS-ERVING Collaborative Distance Learning Initiative to equip 38 individual sites throughout Douglas, Ashland, Barron, St. Croix, Bayfield, Dodge, Florence, Marinette, Sawyer, Iron, Forest, Juneau, Taylor, Wood, Price, Waupaca, Shawano, and Portage counties with the latest interactive video distance learning equipment. K-12 students will have better access to high school credit, college dual credit, and enrichment programming. Adults will access continuing education classes provided by Northwood Tech and Cooperative Educational Service Agency (CESA) #12.
For more information about Northwood Technical College and its diverse educational programs, including distance learning programming, please visit NorthwoodTech.edu. For NWECS specific information, please visit NWECS.net.