Kathy McCune, a Mid-Plains Community College business instructor, teaches a distance learning class earlier this year. MPCC recently received a $100,144 grant from the USDA to enhance its distance learning equipment.
Distance learning (DL) capabilities at Mid-Plains Community College will be better than ever thanks to a $100,144 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The funds were awarded through the USDA's Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program as part of MPCC's Connecting Opportunities for Rural Nebraskans project.
"The USDA has been an integral partner with Mid-Plains over the past several years as we've continued to upgrade our Distance Learning Systems to provide the highest quality of services to our students throughout our 18-county service area in West Central and Southwest Nebraska," said MPCC President Ryan Purdy. "This grant will help us to upgrade equipment in North Platte, Valentine, Ogallala and Broken Bow."
MPCC officials believe DL is a necessity for rural, isolated communities within the college's 20,500-square-mile service area and that new and updated equipment will go a long way in creating an educated and highly-skilled workforce.
Among other things, the upgrades will allow MPCC to enhance student-centered instruction, offer a wider variety of courses at more diverse times, increase student access to classes and information links and provide career and college readiness services.
Additionally, the new DL equipment is expected to positively impact the college's retention rates both online and at each campus location.
"The campus under construction in Valentine will be outfitted with new DL equipment prior to the start of classes, which is anticipated to be in 2017," said Tim Hall, MPCC area director of information services. "Broken Bow DL equipment has been redesigned to match other, newer DL rooms in the college area."
According to Hall, the DL equipment at the Ogallala Campus will be completely replaced to improve performance and reliability.
Eventually, four rooms in the Health and Science Center on NPCC's South Campus will also be replaced to provide simpler, more reliable, state-of-the-art, DL equipment and allow for improved technical support.