Utah's efforts to use technology in education are attracting national attention.
"Utah is head-to-head with the competition. We have one of the five top models in the country, and we need to make sure we continue to be there," said Douglas E. Jones, director of learning services for KUED/KULC.The education effort has several primary areas of focus, including courses for public school students, college courses that can be taken at home for credit or career enhancement, and in-service courses for teachers. Utah is also streamlining higher education through technology-linked meetings that allow administrators to participate while remaining at their own institutions.
Public education students returning to school recently had several options available to them over KULC-Channel 9. A series of math, reading and writing programs were ready to coincide with school opening.
The value of these courses is that they allow exceptional teachers at one location to expand their audience of students to classrooms throughout the state, Jones said.
For instance, Dennis Garner, associate professor at Utah State University and a teacher at Uintah Basin Area Vocational Center, is instructing a computer science class that has enrolled more than 400 students. It also will be viewed by business people who will benefit from the information without seeking credit.
Janet Potter, a "master teacher" in Richfield, will never see in person many of the 150 students enrolled in her Advanced Placement English class. But she will interact with them through technology.
It is this capacity for interaction (thanks to a microwave system) that makes Utah's model so effective, Jones said. The system is particularly useful to rural schools that can expand their resources without hiring additional teachers.
High school students also can participate in a variety of concurrent enrollment classes that began Sept. 5 on KULC. Courses in sociology, physics and psychology offer the opportunity for them to earn college credit while still in high school.
Cooperation among concerned government, higher and public education agencies has been important in developing Utah's comprehensive program, Jones said. SETOC, a strong, wide-based advisory committee, has worked to ensure cost-effectiveness as well as meeting particular needs.
Programs aimed at public school students are being developed in cooperation with the State Office of Education to ensure that they meet core curriculum objectives. Television programs already available are screened to meet the same requirements. Beginning Sept. 5, a wide range of programs has been aired on KUED and KULC to enhance classroom instruction for children in kindergarten through 12th grade.
Use of the EdNet microwave system to link the state's nine institutions of higher learning has saved time and money for their administrators, Jones said.
On Sept. 26, KULC will introduce its most ambitious schedule to date of for-credit college courses. Those who want to take the courses may call Education Services, 581-4194, or the nearest institution of higher education to learn how to enroll, where and when testing takes place and other details related to earning credit. Fees are consistent with those charged for on-site courses.
Courses include U.S. history, sociology, film studies, computer, U.S. Constitution/political science, Utah geography or history, physics, psychology, visual arts, intermediate algebra, aeronautics, business, economics, architecture, art history, African history, the art of being a human being and human behavior.
Again, said Jones, the televised courses allow outstanding university-level instructors to reach a much larger audience.
Further details on course materials and the ongoing programs of the educational channels may be obtained by calling the above number or writing Jones at 101 Gardner Hall, Salt Lake City, UT 84112.