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RCCC gets grant for distance learning

By Emily Ford
eford@salisburypost.com
KANNAPOLIS ó Rowan-Cabarrus Community College has won a $50,142 grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce to equip a distance-education classroom at the college’s new building under construction at the N.C. Research Campus.
The grant will enable RCCC to share “great scientists” at the Research Campus with students everywhere, President Dr. Carol Spalding said.
“It creates a global classroom,” Spalding said. “It can increase our scope and reach.”
RCCC will use the grant to help outfit the classroom with cutting-edge video conferencing capabilities. The money will also provide a mobile video conference system.
The interactive classroom will possess all the equipment needed to provide and receive instruction via two-way video transmission over the Internet, including cameras, projectors, theater-style projection walls, microphones, monitors and a control system.
One-quarter of RCCC students take courses online, Spalding said. The college, which has record enrollment this year of 7,000 full-time equivalent students, offers distance learning at all of its campuses.
As with RCCC’s other video-conferencing facilities, the Research Campus classroom will connect to other campuses, sites throughout North Carolina and national and international education and industry sites.
“Our goal is to use video-conferencing instruction at the NCRC to educate and train students as well as the local workforce,” said Debra NeeSmith, RCCC dean of instructional technologies.
Classes and professional-development events conducted via video-conferencing will give participants access to instructors and industry experts across the region and the globe, NeeSmith said.
With the mobile video conference system, the college can turn a traditional classroom or conference room into a “distance-learning” room, she said.
RCCC, which now offers two biotech degrees, is expected to train much of the workforce for the Research Campus, a $1.5 billion life sciences hub in downtown Kannapolis. California billionaire and Dole Food Co. owner David Murdock is developing the campus.
The grant comes to RCCC through the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration and its Public Telecommunications Facilities Program, which assists public radio, public television and non-broadcast, distance-learning projects across the nation.
RCCC’s grant is part of $19.95 million in grants.

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