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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Innovative Multimedia Brings University to Place-Bound Students

LAS CRUCES - Students who can't leave home to go to college can still go to college class next spring at New Mexico State University, thanks to a unique blend of internet, satellite and communication technologies.

The program, Freeing Place-Bound Students, uses an exceptional mix of technology to provide access to a four-year university for individuals who, because of family responsibilities, business commitments or time limitations, aren't able to get to a four-year college campus.

"This program goes far beyond traditional, satellite delivered distance education," Jeanne Gleason, NMSU agricultural communications professor, said. "While we will use interactive teleclassroom techniques for about eight of the weekly class sessions, the rest of the class will include interactive internet and telecommunications links to NMSU professors and computer based group activities and projects."

The pilot program, a class on agricultural product marketing, will be offered in Spring 1996 to remote locations such as Northern New Mexico Community College in Espanola, San Juan Community College in Farmington, and New Mexico Junior College in Hobbs, as well as the NMSU branch campuses in Alamogordo and Carlsbad. Classes will meet every Monday from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m., January 15 until May 10.

The course will be taught by Lowell Catlett, NMSU agricultural economics professor, and Cynda Clary, NMSU agricultural economics assistant professor.

"We will teach class members to use computer and communication technologies to link with fellow classmates, markets or product buyers, who may be hundreds or even thousands of miles away," Catlett said.

"This program is an attempt to reach people whose educational needs are not being met in their home communities," Catlett said. "It means that they have a phenomenal choice now for access to education that will have its base in computer and interactive technologies."

Students and professors will be able to interact through a toll free number, fax and the internet, both during the class period and throughout the week.

"Students can share their immediate response to each lesson", Clary said. "We will be able not only to answer and clear up their questions, but also have some way for them to give us feedback on what they've learned." Each site will have a facilitator present to coordinate thelearning activities. These group and individual projects will build from lectures, videotapes, internet and database exploration, and group marketing activities.

Workgroups could link students at opposite ends of the state who share common interests.

The course will consist of eight telemedia sessions and eight, site-based activity sessions, guided by interactive links with NMSU professors. Projects will involve exploring local opportunities and resources, and developing community food and fiber marketing plans.

Facilitators at the remote sites will support students in learning computer skills and assist with required reports.

The course will be offered to students seeking both graduate and undergraduate college credit, as well as to community residents who aren't college students, but who want practical training in the marketing of locally-produced food and fiber products.

Freeing Place-Bound Students was the only project funded in the "innovative programs" division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's telecommunication program, Gleason said.

The program is intended to serve the needs of residents in remote, ethnic, economically-limited communities. If successful, it could become the model for distance education programs throughout the nation. For more information call Lynn Robbins, associate dean and director of academic programs at

NMSU's College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences , at (505) 646-1807. If you are an individual with a disability who is in need of an auxiliary aid or service to participate in this class, contact Robbins.