The SW/WC Service Cooperative has been awarded a $498,328.09 grant from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission through a K-12 Telecommunications Grant competition. This grant award will place a portable Interactive Television (ITV) system in each elementary school building within the SW/WC SC’s Wide Area Network (WAN). The grant will provide funds to purchase the equipment and provide for installation and implementation at the 36 elementary schools, providing advanced educational opportunities for over 9,000 elementary children that participate in the Wide Area Network Consortium. “This is an exciting expansion of our video conferencing capabilities in schools throughout Southwest Minnestoa”, said Josh Sumption, Manager of Technology at SW/WC SC. “While high schools have been utilizing video conferencing since the 1980’s, this is the first such project to bring these capabilities into our elementary school buildings.”
As Interactive Video Conferencing usage continues to grow throughout the world, this grant will allow these elementary schools to bring high-quality educational programming such as a virtual field trips, guest speakers or elementary distance learning classes directly into each elementary school. Each school will receive a completely mobile video conferencing system configured so that all an educator needs to do is roll the system into their classroom, plug in a power cord and the network cable, and the system will be ready to connect their classroom to an interactive world of possibilities. The systems will be capable of being hooked up to projectors, allowing a large, projected display for larger group assemblies or activities that require the use of a larger space such as a gym or auditorium. Each system will also include a document camera that will allow items such as pages of a book, manipulatives, microscopes, etc. to be used in conjunction with the video conferencing system allowing for educators and students to broadcast a wide variety of items to other sites throughout the region and world.
Training and programming assistance will be provided to each school to ensure that the equipment will be fully integrated into the educational environment. It is expected that the arrival of the grant funds will allow the new systems to be installed during the spring of 2013, with training provided to educators so the equipment can be used at the start of the 2013-14 school year.
Wide Area Network schools benefitting from this grant include: Adrian, Brewster, Canby, Cedar Mountain, Comfrey, ECHO Charter, Edgerton, Ellsworth, Fulda, Hendricks, Heron Lake-Okabena, Hills-Beaver Creek, Ivanhoe, Jackson County Central, Lake Benton, Luverne, Lynd, Marshall, Milroy, Milroy Charter, Minneota, Mountain Lake, Murray County Central, Pipestone Area, Red Rock Central, Redwood Area, RTR, Sleepy Eye, Springfield, Tracy, Wabasso, Westbrook-Walnut Grove, Windom, and Worthington.