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Oct. 1, 2002

The Arts to the Delta at Work at ULM

The University of Louisiana at Monroe welcomed Leadership Ouachita to campus to observe new classes and equipment made possible by ARTS (Asynchronously Routing Technology Solutions) to the Delta in the Computer Learning Center on the third floor of the Colonel William T. Hemphill Airway and Computer Science Building.

The business professionals of Leadership Ouachita were able to observe a video conferencing class in session. The group got a look at a music class taught by ULM Assistant Professor of Music, Andy Goodman. The computer software Goodman uses allows elementary students in rural parishes to compose, sing, and play keyboards all interactively with the teacher. The Computer Learning Center at ULM where Goodman teaches boasts two TV monitors (where you can see the children being taught), an electronic keyboard, a smart screen (which is activated by touch), and many computers.

The class is currently taught from ULM to first and second graders on Monday and third and fourth graders on Tuesday. Participating schools are in East Carroll Parish: Briarfield Academy; Madison Parish: Tallulah Elementary, Wright Elementary, Tallulah Academy; and Tensas Parish: Tensas Elementary. The class is part of a research project for Goodman.

The ARTS to the Delta program has begun with elementary students but will continue to high schools. During the second phase of this project, in spring 2003, ULM will offer courses to high school students for college credit. College subjects like Algebra, Calculus, Computer Science, and others, will be available to vo-tech schools and interested high schools through video conferencing.

The ARTS to the Delta Project is supervised and run by Assistant professor of Computer Science and Director of Computer Learning Center, Dr. Charlotte Owens, who is also the Technical Director for the project; and by Dr. Dale Magoun, Head of the Department of Computer Science, Mathematics and Physics. Magoun is the co-project director. Magoun is also the lead architect in designing networks and communication structures between ULM and remote sites to feature the latest broadband technologies. Peggy Goodman is the project director with the Monroe Chamber of Commerce.

Dr. Maguon said, "The main focus of this is to develop a better trained workforce for these rural parishes. Without this equipment, the people who live in the rural parishes would have to travel to get this kind of education. This now allows high school students to be in touch with technology and classes that they might not otherwise be able to get. Our site on the third floor of the Airway and Computer Science Building is designed to broadcast to multiple sites simultaneously which will help with the high school classes."

ULM will be able to work with the Louisiana Technical College Delta-Ouachita Campus and Delta Community College. In addition, Remote sites are set up at Lake Providence Technical College, Tallulah Technical College, Tensas Media Center.

ULM President, Dr. James Cofer, said, "We are proud to be able to offer such cutting edge technology to our students and to the community. This is a continued expansion of ULM offerings to students, this new system will allow high school students to take college courses from ULM before they graduate."

ARTS to the Delta uses the latest video conferencing and technologies to provide 1) educational opportunities to increase student academic performance and retention; 2) skills enhancement to encourage entrepreneurship and life-long learning among economically distressed Delta residents; and 3) intercommunication opportunities so those Delta residents can have "virtual" experiences beyond their present environment. Some schools in this part of the region don't employ many certified teachers. This program, through video conferencing, will allow certified teachers to access more students throughout the area. The University of Louisiana at Monroe, the East Carroll, Madison, and Tensas Parishes School Districts and their Youth Opportunity Centers, the Louisiana Technical College at Tallulah, CenturyTel, SEND Technologies, and the Monroe Chamber of Commerce are all partners in the ARTS to the Delta initiative.

Last October the approval of the $544,000 federal grant for the northeast Louisiana educational partnership, ARTS to the Delta, was announced. The program is run from the campus of the University of Louisiana at Monroe. Funding for ARTS to the Delta is from the U.S. Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). NTIA recently awarded $42.8 million in Technology Opportunities Program (TOP) grants; ARTS to the Delta is one of only 74 non-profit organizations across the nation to receive a TOP grant.

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