Distance learning program taking shape
by Dennis Sharkey
An interactive distance learning pilot project by Keystone Learning Services is progressing after falling behind schedule.
Keystone board members instructed Director Dr. Tim Marshall to begin negotiations with Keystone schools superintendents for an agreement to administer the program.
Marshall reported to the Keystone board last month that all seven superintendents voted to establish the Keystone Area Network for Distance Learning. The superintendents have asked Keystone to manage the daily operations of the program. Marshall said the need for resources from the cooperative should be minimal. A formal one year agreement will be proposed.
Initially Keystone has proposed charging an hourly rate to do planning with principals and counselors. In addition other functions such as technical support, billing, and organization would also be billed hourly. Districts would be billed on a quarterly basis.
Marshall told board members that superintendents will make up the board of the network but he will still administer the meetings.
The IDL program connects all of Keystone’s seven school districts that include Jefferson County schools and ACCHS-Effingham via a television circuit. Schools can share classes via the television. Both sides of the television can interact with each other. The last two districts connected their classrooms to the Web this year.
In February some Keystone Board members expressed frustration with the lack of the program moving forward despite an outside consultant being hired.
Some of the issues expressed at that time were communication problems and some teachers’ lack of belief in their teaching methods translating through the technology.
Many schools in Jefferson County have already been utilizing IDL technology to save money. Valley Falls USD 338 and Jefferson County North USD 339 shared classes through IDL this past year.
Currently the two districts share a high school Spanish teacher. Rather than having the teacher travel from school to school the classes can be taught on the IDL. Marshall said Jefferson West may join the two other schools next year.
In other Keystone actions:
• In May the Keystone board had considered moving a cluster program from Nortonville to Oskaloosa. The program has been operating in Nortonville for more than 10 years. Last month the board decided the program would stay in Nortonville for at least another year.
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