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UCHS receives grant proceeds

UCHS receives grant proceeds

Posted: Wednesday, April 14, 2010 11:23 pm

Union City High School is going the distance with great success.
School officials said equipment awarded in the 2009-10 CTE Reserve Grant “Learning From Afar — Endless Opportunities With Distance Learning” is fully operational. (See related photo, Page 18.)
The Union City School System was notified in April 2009 that it had been awarded a Carl Perkins Reserve Grant totaling $87,681.
After being awarded the grant, school officials consulted experts as to the equipment, software and room specifications needed to implement the program.An invitation to bid was issued, bids were awarded and equipment was ordered and received. Once the equipment was installed, training began.
A summary of the equipment received from the grant and placed at UCHS includes Tandberg Codec C90, HD 1090p cameras, microphones, two 60-inch and one 50-inch plasma widescreen HD monitors, an Elmo document camera, two laptop computers, cables and connectors with installation, Tandberg Management Multi-Site Suite software and the Presenter’s Package for Codec C90. Training ex-penses and money for virtual field trips was included.
The primary vision of the grant project was to ensure that learning is the chief priority for the school and that every career-technical student has the opportunity to develop his or her potential to the fullest, complete all graduation requirements and obtain post-secondary skills necessary to hold the high-skill, high-wage, high-demand jobs in the 21st Century, according to Billie Rich, the school system’s vocational director and supervisor of food service.
She said the primary focus of the grant project is to provide new learning opportunities for students, professional development for faculty and staff and career-tech training for both students and adults in the community using distance learning.
Not only are the career-technical students at the high school benefiting from the technology, but all students and staff in the Union City School System have opportunities to use the equipment to enhance learning. The students have an opportunity to discuss any topics of interest with experts in that field.
“This lab gives our students the capability to learn with students anywhere in the world,” Mrs. Rich said. “We also extend an invitation to businesses and the community at large to use this state-of-the-art facility.”
In writing the grant, letters of support were received from the Tennessee Technology Center at Newbern, Dyersburg State Community College, University of Tennessee at Martin, Discovery Park of America, First Citizens National Bank, Northwest Tennessee P-16 Council, Union City Rotary Club and the Union City Schools Career and Technical Advisory Board.
As part of the grant, Dyersburg State Com-munity College received a mobile distance learning lab. The purpose for this equipment at DSCC is to allow for more collaboration between UCHS and the college.
A summary of the equipment on the mobile cart includes a Tandberg Edge 95 MXP mobile VTC system, a Codec 95 MXP, cameras, a plasma monitor, microphones and cables and connections.
Up and running
Students at UCHS in the Lifetime Connections class attended the first video conference offered in the new distance learning lab Feb. 18. The class delivered by the Virtual School at Vanderbilt University was entitled, “Social Media and You.”
Students, teachers and administrators were excited upon entering the room and anxious for the session to begin, according to Ms. Rich. The excitement continued throughout the presentation and into the next day when there was follow-up discussion during class.
“The students were interested in the subject matter and the fact that they were online with students from across the United States,” she said. “Social networking is so relevant to high school students because the majority of them spend time on Facebook, e-mail and other chats.”
Since this first conference, there have been three additional video conferences on a wide range of careers and subjects, with two more currently scheduled. The topics of these conferences have included “Career in Engineering,” “Career as a Web Designer,” “Shooting and Sharing Great Video,” “Career as a Dietitian” and “Nanotechnology, Nanomedicine and Nanobiotechnology.”
“All presentations have been met with the same enthusiasm as the first class,” Ms. Rich said.
The classes have been attended by high school students from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Texas and other students from Tennessee. All groups have been allowed to ask questions when the presentations ended.
“What a great way for our students to share in question-and-answer sessions and to see that the concerns they have are much the same as other students throughout the United States,” Ms. Rich said.
All the video conferences attended so far have been through the Vanderbilt Virtual School at Vanderbilt University. Plans are being made to attend sessions from other locations as well.
Union City Elementary and Union City Middle School students are also looking forward to the opportunity to attend a virtual conference or a virtual field trip soon.
“We in the Union City School System consider this new distance learning lab to be a wonderful opportunity for our students,” Ms. Rich said. “We understand that what we have done thus far is just the beginning. This new lab promises to open the world to us.”
Published in The Messenger 4.14.10

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