W.LEBANON--New Lebanon's schools are connecting to the Adirondack Area Network, an education-based Internet server with links to various distance learning programs and college courses.
Prior to adopting the 2001-02 budget Tuesday night, the school board heard a presentation from district Technology Coordinator Sean Kelleher, a computer expert and supporter of the BOCES-backed virtual classroom experience.
Without the costly addition of a satellite dish, he said, the revamped Junior-Senior High School will soon be linked to live lessons and field trips beamed from centers of learning like Hudson Valley Community College, Albany Medical Center and the state museum.
The $12,000 link, which the board approved, will not require any major adjustments to the district's new wiring or the purchase of new hardware. And, said Mr. Kelleher, funding opportunities exist to lower the cost in coming years.
He pointed to several benefits of the network, including instruction at the college level for accelerated students, professional development programs for teachers, school board interaction with regional authorities and the potential for community access.
Even if just a handful of district residents sought to take emergency medical classes that would otherwise be cost prohibitive, explained Mr. Kelleher, New Lebanon could provide them through distance learning. The school will be able to link with other districts like Berlin should class sizes here be too small.
The potential for medical instruction, according to Mr. Kelleher, is a plus for an area in desperate need of volunteer rescue personnel.
"I can see great community possibilities with that," he said.
And with every SUNY college recently agreeing to accept credits from throughout the system, said Superintendent Muriel Lanciault, students here could get a leg up on their post-secondary education by getting long-distance credit from HVCC.
She agreed with Mr. Kelleher's assessment of the program, touting the benefits of bringing the public into the Junior-Senior High School for classes. That presence, she said, assures citizens their decision to approve the building's extensive renovation project was a good one. --Matthew Sheehey
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