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RHS Virtual Center brings the class to students

By Staff | Dec 3, 2010

The Rugby High School Virtual Center brings the class to the students.

The virtual center is part of the North Central Area Career and Technical Center (NCACTC), a consortium of schools that work on providing career and technical education to students in an eight-school area through interactive television (ITV).

A virtual classroom can be one where the teacher is in an empty classroom and is teaching to students in a few different schools by use of ITV. The teacher appears on a TV screen, seen and heard by the students in different towns. The teacher can see and hear each of the students on a TV screen where he/she is located. In the meantime, the classes are monitored by a TV screen in the office of each school.

Most of the classes are electives, chosen by the students. Just like a regular classroom, the students can raise their hands and ask questions and the teacher can ask and answer questions from the students. The equipment for the virtual classroom is such that the teacher may project material onto the television screen for the students to see.

The director, Kathy McCracken, rural Carrington, is the only full-time employee of the Virtual Center. Two rooms at Rugby High School are used for the Virtual Center. McCracken works with teachers from the eight member schools to staff the virtual classrooms. Five areas of focus make up the program. They are: health careers, information technology, marketing, electronics, and construction trades.

In addition to elective classes offered, the program provides summer session classes. The last two years, construction trades has been offered for three weeks in the summer and the student receives a 1/2 credit for the course. The teacher is from Dunseith. The construction trades class is designed for students who like to work with their hands, build, be innovative, take pride in a finished project, and have an interest in carpentry or related area, according to the brochure provided for the class.

Preparing students for jobs in industry, is a summer welding academy. The welding academy is open to students ages 16-19. The academy will be held at the Drake High School Ag. Shop. Students who want to start a welding career can gain a wide variety of skills and experience from this class. The class is held for two weeks in June.

The online electronics technology class can earn one high school credit by setting aside one period per day during the school year. Electronics is the study, design, and use of electrical signals. Students use meters, oscilloscopes and computers to design, build and troubleshoot electronic control circuitry.

Health Care is the fastest growing field and students whose schools are members of the NCACTC have an opportunity to learn about health careers either through ITV or online. Angela Hoffart, HAMC ambulance service, teaches health career and emergency medical services through ITV at the Rugby High School Virtual Center. She is able to help the students discern what area of the health care field they would like to have for a career.

The North Central Area Career and Technology Center was formed with the help of Dakota College in Bottineau in July of 2008. The eight member schools got together and wrote a grant to start career/technology in this part of the state. The funds from the grant were used to purchase equipment for the Virtual Center classrooms, a trailer filled with construction materials, to train ag. teachers in welding and purchase welding equipment.

McCracken spends three days working at Rugby High School and the other two days traveling to other schools in the consortium. She coordinates all of the activities with all of the schools. Sometimes the student numbers are disappointing, but she realizes that with all the credits students are required to get, they don’t always have time in their schedules to take electives. Yet, for the students who are able to choose to take these career-enhancing electives, the benefit is great.

McCracken may be contacted at Rugby at 776-7208 for more information on the Virtual Center.

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