By Marshall Chambers, Director of Education, Healthcare, and Government Initiatives
NGN exists because visionaries saw and continue to see a more prosperous economic future for rural communities – a future that would be all but impossible to attain without NGN, one of the nation’s fastest and most reliable fiber networks. Paul Belk, NGN’s president, understands that economic development is directly tied to education:
“The strength of our communities, our economy, our workforce…it all starts in the schools, connecting schools through this powerful network highway is the first step.”
Delivering on this promise, the Education Exchange provides a gigabit connection to every participating school. It was built to enable participating schools to share everything from web-based instructional resources to online course materials to video conferencing services over a 10-gigabit secure and private education cloud. However, most North Georgia school systems find these possibilities still out of reach because they lack the “classroom distance learning technology” that could enable them to access the content that the Education Exchange was built to deliver. The Rural Utilities Service – Distance Learning and Telemedicine (RUS-DLT) Grant helps rural communities acquire technologies to connect teachers and medical providers serving rural residents with other teachers, medical professionals and needed experts located at distances too far to access otherwise.
NGN led the effort to apply for the grant. Joining NGN as partners in the application were Real LEDGE (Leading Economic Development through Global Entrepreneurship), the University of North Georgia and four North Georgia school systems: Dawson, Towns, Union, and White counties; along with the Southeast Georgia school system of Tattnall County. The coalition will work together to create a distance learning network that will connect the school districts to Real LEDGE, the University of North Georgia, and to each other to accomplish the following:
- Provide dual enrollment classes to each high school;
- Provide college and career-readiness programs;
- Provide entrepreneurial programs;
- Provide sharing of classes between schools;
- Provide adult education to each of the communities;
- Provide college preparation and transitional activities;
- Provide virtual mentorship programs;
- Support project-based learning activities and connections to businesses for learning opportunities; and
- Provide tutoring…
…along with anything else they might dream to do…because with the ‘distance learning technology’ that this grant will provide each of the participating school districts will be equipped to do what the Education Exchange is designed to do: “put communities, schools – administrators, teachers, and students themselves in the driver’s seat…”
Learn more about NGN’s work with schools and communities.
Want to know more about the RUS-DLT Grant? Look here for a Program 101.
Watch this video to see how Real LEDGE is promoting social and business entrepreneurship.