New Mexico Learning Network Brings the Classroom to You

ACANS News & Information Center

New Mexico Learning Network Brings the Classroom to You

Each day, advances in computer and communication technologies are breaking down geographical barriers and connecting people across the globe.   The New Mexico Learning Network (NMLN) seeks to develop this technology to its full potential by connecting students and educators across New Mexico through e-learning.   NMLN was first formed in October of 2000, as New Mexico’s Virtual College, a consortium of almost twenty colleges and universities from across New Mexico that came together to pool information and resources to better serve students throughout the state.   In January of 2006, the NM Virtual College was renamed the NMLN and expanded its focus to include K-12 educations, workforce development, and government agencies.   NMLN aims to provide high quality education while minimizing geographic and scheduling barriers faced by many traditional students who attend classes at a college or university.   To accomplish this, participating providers are relying on e-learning – distance education that utilizes technologies such as internet conferencing and interactive TV – to bring courses and instructors to the students.   The offerings include Associate, Bachelors, Masters, and Doctoral degrees; high school and GED classes and certification; vocational and professional training; and concurrent enrollment courses, which allow students to receive high school and college credit for a single course.   It’s all done in a virtual environment with few to no trips to a campus and with little to no additional cost.

Image of ...NMLN will bring learning opportunities to students in rural areas.

Julia Parra is co-chair of NMLN’s “Best Practices for Delivering eLearning” committee.   As the name suggests, the committee is investigating the best technologies for e-learning and methods for delivering the technology to students across different grade levels.   Working and learning in a virtual classroom has several advantages over the traditional classroom setting, says Parra.   Students participating in e-learning can work from almost anywhere and at any time, which saves them time and money because they don’t have to travel to and from a classroom.   E-learning brings educational opportunities to students in remote, rural, or underserved populations that would otherwise be neglected.   It also increases the availability of, and access to, educational resources.

But what if a student had no experience working in a virtual environment?   Brian Ormand, Director of ICT Strategic Relations, says that some states already require e-learning literacy by the time students finish high school, and that NMLN is working with participating schools to ensure that students have the skills required to take advantage of e-learning opportunities.   There is even the possibility of a statewide technical help desk.

Image of ...Brian Ormand is one of many volunteers working to expand and improve NMLN.

To increase the availability and quality of e-learning, NMLN is working with the state of New Mexico to develop a state-of-the-art e-learning infrastructure that will increase connectivity, provide more available software, and standardize the learning management system.   Once the infrastructure is in place, its available resources would not be limited to education alone, says Ormand.   A statewide communication network would be very flexible and could be utilized by businesses or the government to train employees, or used to aid in emergency or disaster response.   “It’s the way that people are going to be working or learning,” says Ormand of the virtual environment.   “Investing in technology for education is an investment in the future.”

ACANS Newscenter is published by the Association of Computing and Networking Services at New Mexico State University. If you would like to subscribe to the ACANS Newscenter, request further information, or to submit articles of interest contact ICT Strategic Relations, 646-4857  email: ict_sr@nmsu.edu