LBHC Taking the Reservation to the World

Feb 15th, 1999 | By | Category: 10-3: Distance Education, Tribal College News

Little Big Horn College (LBHC) is at the forefront of a technology explosion on the Crow Reservation in Montana. A recent grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will help the Big Horn Focus Project achieve its goal–“Taking the Reservation to the World and the World to the Reservation,” using technology to foster cultural exchanges. The schools of Big Horn County are spread out over vast distances, but the project will help connect 3,033 school age children to each other and to the world.

The project involves the college, the Montana Consortium, the Big Horn County School Districts, and Vision Net. Now connected through e-mail access with web pages being constructed at all sites, the project goes beyond the Internet. The distance learning classes will be conducted at one site, utilizing interactive video, connecting all the partners through an enhanced Wide Area Network (WAN). The Big Horn Focus project germinated from discussions at Rural Science Initiative and Bilingual Task Force meetings, two groups concerned with curriculum, academic standards, and using technology within a culturally relevant environment. Wanting to facilitate cross cultural exchanges, the groups decided upon telecommunications.

Little Big Horn College and Rocky Mountain College (a small private college in Billings) have been part of the Montana Consortium for several years. (See separate story in this issue, “Emphasizing the human being in distance education.”) The Montana Consortium in partnership with the four reservation school districts and Vision Net (parent company of Nemont Telephone) submitted the grant. A one year, USDA Rural Utility Service Grant provides equipment for the project. Previous distance learning sites were handcuffed by the inability to go outside their peer groups or hub. With Vision Net, as many as 144 sites could be connected. At this time approximately 58 Montana sites use this system, including public schools, community colleges, and undergraduate colleges.

This project is the latest of several efforts by Little Big Horn College to serve K-12 students, adults, senior citizens, and businesses through telecommunications. The college’s School to Work Program provides access, training, and linkages to community businesses to benefit students at all levels. Sharon Peregoy, a moving force in the Big Horn Focus Project, said the group is researching other funding sources to expand their services. They also plan to deliver seminars in business management, procurement, and contracting to American Indian rural communities. The college website is www.lbhc.cc.mt.us/index.html.

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