SIPI Distance Education Effort Expands

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

To help educate and better serve reservation communities, Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI) received a boost in early 1999 for its growing distance education program. The federal government and the Lockheed-Martin Corporation each gave SIPI $100,000 to provide instruction via satellite to reservations. The courses will include both degree programs and tribal employee training.

Many Indian tribes across the nation are located in remote, rural settings and could benefit from increased use of satellite communication. Santa Clara Pueblo, the Mescalero Apache Tribe, and the Canoncito Navajo Chapter, all in New Mexico, are expected to be the pilot locations for the program. The project funding will enable Native American communities to receive interactive training through satellite and the World Wide Web without leaving the reservation. This will benefit those who lack time, ability, or funds to travel to a college or other institution for such classes.

Tribes may receive training in precision farming and water management technologies. One tribe may use the new technology to map its land to help establish boundaries. SIPI (Albuquerque, N.M.) will also be able to make science and math classes available to tribes across the country, no matter how remote.

Former New Mexico Congressman William Redmond was instrumental in putting the appropriation and grant together, along with Lockheed Martin officials and representatives from the National Center for Research Innovations. SIPI is one of NCRI’s seven sites for technology transfer and information systems development. SIPI, NCRI, and the Southern Ute Tribe (Colorado) are working on another distance education project as well, including teacher and staff training.

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