Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna announced today the recipients of the Idaho Education Network's (IEN) 2012 Innovation Program Awards.
The Innovation Program was initiated to fulfill Governor Otter's vision of maximizing the use of the IEN, increasing access, and rewarding best practices. The Innovation award recipients will receive upgraded or additional Interactive Video Conferencing systems to enhance their existing use of the network.
"The Idaho Education Network is a key part of our efforts to provide all Idaho students with the opportunity for a world-class education. Technology is only the conduit; the real magic is in our ability to provide the best available instructional content for students from Sandpoint to Soda Springs," Governor Otter said. "Our schools are embracing the IEN and its potential in a big way, and that will pay dividends for many years to come."
The IEN celebrated the completion of the first phase of the project and now has Interactive Video Conferencing equipment and high-speed networks in over 200 public high schools throughout the state. A primary purpose of the system is to increase educational opportunities in Idaho's schools by incorporating distance learning, which includes live interactive classes, computer-based classes, or a combination of the two.
Schools benefit by collaborating with other districts and schools to expand course offerings, afford students access to dual-credit opportunities with colleges and universities, and provide professional-technical courses. By blending existing teaching strategies with technology, students experience enhanced opportunities.
School districts in Horseshoe Bend, Garden Valley, Cascade, Meadows Valley, Salmon River, Council, Cambridge, Midvale, and McCall formed the Long Pin IEN Instructional Consortium to build strong academic relationships as a result of recent funding issues. This award enables the Council and McCall High Schools to install an additional system that allows the consortium to teach more classes to each other over the IEN.
"In light of our greatly reduced budget, the IEN has provided the framework for opportunity within our consortium," said Murray Dalgleish, Superintendent and Secondary Principal from Council. "The concern about students being taught by a computer is eliminated because the teacher meets the students face-to-face through the network. We are able to share resources, which allow the small districts to be competitive, more effective and productive. I want my kids to have the opportunity."