Warner Robins, Ga. – The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently awarded $136,500 from its Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grant Program to Central Georgia Technical College (CGTC), positioning the College to be a part of USDA’s $39.6 million investment into more than 4.5 million rural Americans in 40 states, beginning with nearby Jones County.
Several rural-serving institutions nationwide, including CGTC, will use the grant funding to increase access to education, workforce training, and health care opportunities for their communities. CGTC will support the use of video-conferencing technology for STEM-related dual enrollment courses at the Jones County College and Career Academy (JCCCA).
“We have had great success over the past years using video conferencing technology to connect students at our campuses and satellite centers. Now, we’re excited to pilot this approach with a dual enrollment partner,” said, CGTC’s vice president of Academic Affairs, Dr. Amy Holloway. “By leveraging this technology, we can connect Jones County students to live instruction at our Macon or Warner Robins campuses and expand our dual enrollment offerings in high demand STEM fields such as healthcare and engineering. Our plan is to scale up this approach in the future to reach our dual enrollment partners in other rural counties.”
Grants and loans from USDA Rural Development help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. Access to distance education instructional delivery strategies and video conferencing technologies is key to reaching the College’s 11-county service area in middle Georgia.
Carol Lee, the Educational Technology director at CGTC, said the College successfully deploys distance learning educational delivery to CGTC’s existing 11 sites with over 125 Cisco Telepresence video conferencing units installed and operational on a daily basis for faculty and staff meetings, credit-hour classes, tutoring sessions, adult education programs, and continuing education programs.
This grant will complement these previous efforts by adding equipment to connect JCCCA to two of the College’s main campuses, Warner Robins and Macon. Faculty will teach JCCCA students via new video conferencing units and secure communication access.
“By providing innovative, technology-delivered instruction to a rural high school partner, CGTC hopes to close the educational gap and link students to educational opportunities that may be located at distances too far to access otherwise,” Lee said.
For more on the College’s Dual Enrollment program, visit, www.centralgatech.edu/highschool
Additional information regarding the USDA DLT Grant Program can be found in the USDA’s news release titled, “USDA Announces Funding to Increase Access to Education, Workforce Training and Health Care Opportunities in Rural Communities”, available here: https://www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2018/10/31/usda-announces-funding-increase-access-education-workforce-training
Photo: Construction is ongoing for the Jones County College and Career Academy and its classroom that will house the teleconferencing technology from CGTC. (Photo courtesy of JCCA)