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Going the Distance: How a Rural University is Reshaping Remote Learning


June 20, 2019 - 0 Comments

Partner Success Story

Online learning is opening new doors in education. A more flexible curriculum means more people have the opportunity to go to college. One drawback, however, is the lack of face time with professors. Meaning, online students can’t get live feedback or ask questions in real time. But Northern Vermont University is changing that.

Northern Vermont University (NVU) has two campuses, one in Lyndon and another in Johnson – two towns separated by 40 miles. NVU also has an online learning program, which is considered their third campus. To give students at each campus even more learning opportunities, the university envisioned a future in which all three were connected.

To bring this vision to life, NVU turned to Carousel Industries, Cisco’s Americas Partner Organization, and the Cisco sales team. Together, the team created a solution for NVU using a combination of Cisco’s SX10 and SX80 telepresence kits. This technology allows professors to teach from one site, but project to multiple places, which means the university can offer more of its courses to more of its students.

This also enhances the school’s online learning experience. Remote students can continue through each course at their own pace. And, they also have allotted time each week to connect live with an instructor for questions and feedback.

To realize this project, the university received a $378,000 Rural Services Utility grant from the USDA, awarded to infrastructure projects that improve the quality of life or expand economic opportunities for rural residents.

“When you talk about all of these opportunities that this is going to present, everybody gets excited about it,” said Bobbi Jo Carter, the Associate Dean of Distance Education at NVU. “Everybody can see themselves in this. This is a real solution that people can connect with, as opposed to something that is so technical that they can’t relate to it or they can’t really envision it.”

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