September 10, 2014 – Video Guidance, one of the nation’s premier video conferencing companies, will work with a consortium of 13 Minnesota school districts, a technical college, an extensive regional library system and the Mille Lacs Band to create an ambitious initiative to push educational experiences beyond the boundaries of typical distance education. In an effort to redesign distance learning, the East Central Minnesota Educational Cable Cooperative (ECMECC) consortium will use new video conferencing technology to connect thousands of rural and American Indian students with countless new education courses and experts.
Rather than just focusing on providing rural students with more classes via distance education technology and the occasional virtual field trip, the consortium’s video initiative aims to transform and enrich the way its students learn.
ECMECC’s system runs on a fiber optic network that not only delivers distance education classes, but also brings the Internet to schools. The new program will greatly expand the number of distance education courses available that currently serves only 600 students with 26 classes. The $366,294 project will be supported by a $238,294 Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Distance Learning & Telemedicine grant.
ECMECC, Pine Technical and Community College, the Mille Lacs Band and the East Central Regional Library System will focus on several strategies to enhance academic achievement, including reintegrating arts and culture into the classroom; providing one-to-one and group tutoring and mentoring; and offering dual-credit and make-up courses to ensure students in rural schools have the same opportunities as their urban counterparts. The project can transform learning. Students will:
- Be inspired by artists, authors, inventors and other creators through video-driven interactions;
- Be actively engaged in at least one major collaborative project annually with their peers in other school districts with the support of teachers and public librarians as they explore local history, local ecology and a multitude of other subjects.
- Participate in preserving local heritage through enrollment in Ojibwe language courses.
- Be supported through tutoring and mentoring
- Be interacting with each other using “students as teachers” approaches to learning, as they develop and present content using video technology.
- Be earning college credit through dual-credit, college-level course – (many do not have access to such opportunities now).
Video conferencing has revolutionized the way people connect and as a result, businesses and organizations are making visual communications a strategic priority. Regarded for featuring the next generation of technology in an ever-changing industry, Video Guidance will also provide technical support and training.
While the program’s focus on schools is critically important, the fact that students succeed if their families succeed must also be acknowledged. Therefore, the consortium is offering courses to parents and adults to quickly obtain credentials, earn a pay raise, or garner a promotion. In addition, arts and cultural programming will also be offered to adult learners.
Member school districts include Braham, Cambridge-Isanti, Chisago Lakes, East Central, Hinckley-Finlayson, Milaca, Mora, North Branch, Ogilvie, Pine City, Princeton, Rush City, Pine Technical College, St. Francis, and associate member, Elk River.
About Video Guidance
Founded in 1999, Video Guidance (www.videoguidance.com) is an independent, strategic visual communications company that customizes state-of-the-art products, services and solutions from the world’s finest manufacturers. Privately held and headquartered in Bloomington, Minn., Video Guidance is a certified partner of Acano, Cisco, Polycom, LifeSize and Pexip, and maintains strategic alliances with Conference Plus, On Stream Media Corporation and VQ Communication.