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Fillmore Central gets grant


Fri, Dec 4th, 2009
Posted in Education

Fillmore Central Schools is one of twenty in southeast Minnesota who will be boosting learning options for their students with videoconferencing supported by a federal grant.

Southeast Minnesota's rural schools struggle with providing basic education to students due to several educational barriers that inhibit innovative content delivery for students. That may be about to change, thanks to a $373, 123 grant from the US Department of Agriculture. The funding will help the school districts to bridge the "digital divide" with videoconferencing technology that will bring more course options as well as teacher professional development to all of the schools with collaborative programming.

Fillmore Central Schools participated in the Southeast Minnesota Generation Now Learning Project proposal, led by Southeast Service Cooperative and Southland Public Schools on behalf of the twenty schools. The proposal was one of 191 eligible applications that competed nationally in the 2009 USDA Rural Development Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant program. The impetus behind the proposal came from the Southeast Minnesota Network (SEMNET), a consortium distance learning network of schools in Minnesota's southeast eleven counties.

Riverland Community College and Minnesota State College Southeast Technical will likely play a role in the project, offering concurrent courses that provide both high school and college credits for some courses. The project will build off existing distance learning programs that have been initiated in several area rural schools, such as Southland, LeRoy-Ostrander, Lyle, Grand Meadow, and Caledonia.

Each school district in the Generation Now Learning Project will receive mobile videoconferencing units with plasma displays and wireless capability. This technology will integrate with existing technology infrastructure to provide access to these distance-learning opportunities. The project will provide training for teachers in using distance learning technologies.

The Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program is designed to enhance educational and health care services in rural America.

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