A grant of nearly $15,000 from Kan-ed, a statewide information network administered by the Kansas Board of Regents, has enabled Bethel College to improve its ability to offer distance learning.
Earlier this school year, Kan-ed named 94 organizations, including Bethel, as recipients of Equipment and Technology Grants for 2008. Kan-ed members are K-12 public schools, higher education institutions, libraries and hospitals.
Bethel used a significant part of its grant to upgrade and improve the interactive TV capabilities of the distance-learning classroom in Krehbiel Science Center, replacing the standard definition TV with a high-definition one.
The math and computer science departments of Bethel and Tabor College in Hillsboro have been working together since 2007 to provide classes each would have trouble doing alone because of small numbers.
Distance learning is easier on the students who would need to commute, given higher fuel prices and the amount of time they would spend driving relative to time in class.
Currently, Bethel and Tabor are sharing four classes. Lisa Thimm, assistant professor of mathematics at Bethel, teaches a math class and Friesen teaches two computer science classes.
Glen Diener, Tabor associate professor of computer science, is also teaching a class in that discipline.
Friesen noted there are actually more Tabor students than Bethel students in Thimm?s modern algebra class.
?There are exciting possibilities for collaboration here,? he said.
Jeff Roberson, director of information and media services at Bethel, wrote the grant to Kan-ed, which was awarded in the amount of $14,872.40.
It purchased the piece of equipment that transmits the video feed from the originating classroom to the other side, along with two cameras, a plasma TV and supplementary equipment.
?The grant awards provide Kan-ed members with a tremendous opportunity to obtain the latest technology and equipment available in order to enhance video conferencing services,” said Brad Williams, Kan-ed executive director.
?Advanced video conferencing technology enables organizations to better serve their communities. The ability to identify critical member needs and offer opportunities to enhance access through technology contributes to the continued growth of Kan-ed.?