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E-learning grows in Indiana.

An increasing number of adults in Indiana are pursuing their educational goals through distance learning. According to the Indiana Higher Education Telecommunication System (IHETS), enrollments in distance learning classes reached nearly 70,000 last year--a 42 percent jump from 2001-02 and a 425 percent increase over the past five years. IHETS is a consortium of higher education institutions in Indiana that operates technology networks, manages the state's virtual university and pursues applications research and development.

Susan Scott, director of the Indiana College Network (ICN), a service of IHETS that provides a gateway to e-learning opportunities from the state's colleges and universities, says that such opportunities will help Indiana compete economically by increasing the number of adults with bachelor's or associate's degrees.

Dave King, executive director of IHETS, says that the Community College of Indiana is an important part of building a more educated workforce, but adds that distance learning is another.

"Indiana's colleges are working more closely than ever with K-12 education, libraries, public broadcasting and cultural organizations to expand access to education through technology," notes King. "And we're trying to do that in ways that make sense to learners wherever they live, work or go to school."

IHETS took note of a study published last summer by the Education Commission of the States, "Closing the College Participation Gap," which concluded that Indiana needs to increase adult participation in college by 94 percent by 2015 just to catch up to where the best states are today--and those states will have continued to move forward, IHETS officials view distance learning as a valuable tool for the state in closing this gap.

The flexibility of online learning appeals to adults with jobs and families, notes Scott, who adds that distance learners tend to fall into three groups.

"First, the overwhelming majority are adults age 25 and older," she says. "However, in a second category we're beginning to see some traditional college students taking classes in their dorms because a course they needed filled up. Financial constraints for universities often mean they can't afford to offer as many sections of popular courses, and no one wants to see full-time students having to take five or six years to graduate. And third, we're beginning to see some high school students get a jumpstart on college by taking video or online courses."

For more information about the Indiana Higher Education Telecommunication System, visit www.ihets.org.

New Resource for Superintendents on NCLB

By calling a new information line, school superintendents will have a direct link to the U.S. Department of Education for targeted, quick responses to questions they may have about No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The new toll-free line (1-888 NCLB-SUP or 1-800 625-2787) offers information on the NCLB Act such as accountability, measuring school progress, supplemental educational services, public school choice options and details on the highly qualified teachers provisions of the law.

"Superintendents are on the frontlines of implementing No Child Left Behind," notes U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige, "and having walked in their shoes, I know firsthand many of the challenges they face."

Paige describes the new resource as a one-stop shop where superintendents can get prompt assistance to help them more effectively implement NCLB. The information line is staffed weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. At other times, or when the lines are busy, superintendents may leave messages. E-mail inquiries may also be sent to NCLBSUP@ed.gov.
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Title Annotation:Front and Center
Publication:Techniques
Date:Mar 1, 2004
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