SKC Provides Online IT Classes at Crownpoint

Nov 15th, 2006 | By | Category: 18-2: Traditional Wisdom Our Strength, Tribal College News

Jared Ribble and Chris Yazzie, both Navajo, are information technology technicians who work at their alma mater, Crownpoint Institute of Technology (CIT, Crownpoint, NM). Last spring, they enrolled in online courses offered by Salish Kootenai College (SKC, Pablo, MT) and expect to earn Bachelor of Science Degrees in Information Technology (IT) next year.

Courses last 10 weeks each, but students can log into the program 24-7. “Classes are fast paced, with reading material,” Yazzie says, “and you have to keep up, just like for regular classes.”

Ribble enjoys the online class discussions. “We’re already doing the work some are only studying in courses,” he states. “Right now we’re working on the Internet to Hogan project, we’re setting up a supercomputer to bring wireless network to reservation communities.”

Yazzie admits he’s struggled with some course content and sometimes wishes he had an instructor to meet with face-to-face. “E-mail questions are dependent on when the instructor responds,” he says.

Yet he says, “We took ‘History of Indians in the U.S.’ from one of the best instructors. I gained a totally different perspective, and our texts, First Peoples and American Holocaust, were really eye-opening.”

SKC is one of a few tribal colleges offering a 4-year program online using the Lotus Notes Learning Space and SKC Pathway. The National Science Foundation’s Tribal College and University Program (TCUP) funded SKC’s online IT baccalaureate degree program as well as tuition, books, and fees for the CIT staff.

SKC offers online courses and degree programs to Indian students in the United States and to indigenous students in Alberta, British Columbia, and Australia.

CIT Dean of Instruction Tom Davis was instrumental in getting the two sites connected. He has also mentored CIT IT Director Jason Arviso (Navajo), who is now working on an online master’s degree from Capella University.

“It was our desire to offer this program because computer technology assistance is so needed in Indian country, and we’re very pleased that the program is growing, with students enrolled from several different tribal areas,” says SKC President Dr. Joe McDonald.

For information on the CIT Information Technology projects, call Tom Davis, Dean of Instruction at 505-786-4100.  For information on SKC’s online computer technology program, call (406) 275-4800 or visit: www.skc.edu.

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