With growing concern about the education systems in rural areas, rural schools have recently captured the attention of the federal government, which has redoubled its efforts to improve education in these areas. Fortunately, we’ve seen a number of efforts being made across the country to look for ways to address this issue. One of my favorite examples right now is the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS).
While the university provides other education programs, its main focus is the nursing program, which was suffering from the lack of geographical reach of UCCS’ courses. UCCS recognized the potential to harness collaboration tools to build out its distance education program, reach more nursing students and keep rural nursing students working in their local communities.
The university implemented Cisco TelePresence for nursing education on its Colorado Springs campus, and quickly spread across all UCCS campuses -- enabling more schools to access their nursing program. In addition to establishing high-definition video to stream live classroom content from the main Colorado Springs campus, nursing students in Lamar and Otero were also able to participate in real-time emergency room simulations, interacting with instructors and other students in three locations simultaneously.
Jerry Wilson, CTO and executive director of IT for UCCS said, “The first usage is the sharing of nursing faculty, Cisco allows us to use one faculty member for three classrooms of students. The second benefit is providing access to rural students, who were previously challenged by a five- to six- hour commute.”
Ultimately, Cisco TelePresence is enabling UCCS to offer tailored, localized nursing programs that are attracting and retaining the area’s best and brightest nursing candidates, while ensuring rural communities are not disadvantaged by their geography.
I highly recommend checking out this video, which highlights the experience of a UCCS student attending classes remotely while working in her local community. It’s a bit long, but really underlines the power of this program and its impact on entire communities, rural students and the school itself. Let me know what you think…