CiTi BOCES Awarded USDA RUS Grant to Expand Distance Learning

11/27/2019

MEXICO — The Center for Instruction, Technology & Innovation (CiTi), also known as Oswego County BOCES, has been awarded a USDA Rural Utilities Service (RUS) grant.

The RUS grant for distance learning provides the opportunity to incorporate interactive videoconferencing technology into the educational setting by installing distance learning labs at districts and community colleges. CiTi coordinates a robust and highly valued distance learning program in Oswego County, New York. This network was upgraded with the support of a 2013 RUS grant and connects regional students to Onondaga Community College for participation in New York State Early College High School Programs (ECHS).

The 2019 RUS grant will greatly expand the capacity and reach of the CiTi distance learning network. CiTi will add a second ECHS provider, Cayuga Community College, and double the number of schools participating. Additional classrooms will be equipped to support a full-day Career and Technical Education (CTE) high school program and a Pathways in Early College High School (P-TECH) program. P-TECH is a program dedicated to offering students from all BOCES component districts the opportunity to earn an associate degree; Oswego County P-TECH offers an associate’s in either mechanical or electrical technology. A facility dedicated to a new adult education program will be added to the network. CiTi will also establish a formal program to coordinate the virtual sharing of instructors among school districts. CiTi will expand its successful program coordinating virtual field trips and classroom collaborations as well as expand its virtual professional development program.

CiTi seeks to offer certifications and associate degree pathways for STEM-related courses and careers in partnership with Cayuga and Onondaga Community Colleges through CiTi’s Distance Learning Program. The 2019 RUS grant will provide distance learning labs at CiTi, school districts and at community colleges, as well as a videoconferencing infrastructure to support the virtual classrooms. The distance learning college courses are instructed by the professors at the colleges or teachers from participating districts. The grant will also provide interactive videoconferencing equipment to school districts to support STEM-related virtual field trips amongst all grade levels PK-12 to assist in developing interest in students at a young age through the distance learning program.

“This will open more doors for many students in our region who might not otherwise have seen college as a possibility for them,” said CiTi District Superintendent Christopher J. Todd. “The grant will help level the playing field for many of our rural communities by offering more opportunities, pathways and access to a collegiate education. We’re excited to expand the program, working together with community partners in leveraging innovative technology to enhance and diversify the quality of learning for all.”

CiTi Distance Learning Coordinator Melissa Daniels believes, “The 2019 RUS award will allow CiTi to expand the partnership with Cayuga and Onondaga Community Colleges by creating focused college and career pathways for students in Oswego County. Taking interactive videoconferencing college courses during high school will allow students to have a college experience with a college professor while still in high school. Students will be able to shorten the length of time at a college lessening the financial burden on the student and families by enabling students to make substantial progress toward a college degree before finishing high school.”

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