North Dakota Colleges Expanding Distance Ed

Feb 15th, 2000 | By | Category: 11-3: Native Language, Tribal College News

BISMARCK, ND – The North Dakota Association of Tribal Colleges received a grant from the U. S. Department of Education to expand distance education programs in the state. All of the six tribal colleges involved in the association now offer primarily two-year, associate degrees. (Two have recently begun offering bachelor’s degrees in conjunction with other institutions.) With the grant, the association itself eventually will become a baccalaureate degree granting institution.

Initially, the association will focus upon sharing courses, making extensive use of the faculty, technology, and curricula of the six tribal colleges. The colleges currently share courses through interactive video, but the grant will provide for CD-ROM and Internet-based course work. Over a three-year period, the association will receive $779,600 to carry out its activities. The association was one of 29 grantees funded in the nation out of 600 applications to FIPSE (the Fund for the Improvement of Post-secondary Education) Learning Anytime Anywhere Partnership Program. The five North Dakota tribal colleges in the association will establish partnerships with Sisseton Wahpeton Community College of Sisseton, S.D.; Western Cooperative for Educational Telecommunications (WICHE) of Boulder, Colo.; Archipelago Productions of Monterey, Calif.; and, Legacy Solutions of Bismarck, N.D.

Phyllis Howard, executive director of the North Dakota Association of Tribal Colleges, said the grant will help fulfill a long-standing goal of the six colleges. They approved a model for developing the four-year institution in 1991. She said, “It’s exciting to be on the edge of technology, particularly when we can provide higher education to our remote Indian reservations. I’m particularly pleased because these college courses can reach elders, senior citizens, TANF clients, and other individuals who cannot go to college every day.” (TANF is the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Family program.)

WICHE will contribute its expertise in distance learning delivery, online students service delivery, and accreditation of distance learning programs. Legacy Solutions, a private sector general computing firm, will help develop an online student data system and help produce the CD-ROMs for the project. Archipelago Productions, a national publishing group, will provide access to their CD course work and assist in annotating these courses with specific cultural material.

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