Featured Network: Northern Lights Network
May 01, 2007
We have been providing distance education programs since: The CESA 11 region in Northwest Wisconsin has been providing distance learning classes since 1994 when the WestWing Network was established. The IDEAL network began in 1997 and merged with the WestWING network the same year to become the Northern Lights Network. Next year, Northern Lights Network will be celebrating our 10th Anniversary.
Number of member sites: The Northern Lights Network currently has 32 members. Seven school administrators serve on our Northern Lights Network Board each year. They set policies and guidelines for operating our network.
Our membership includes (type of sites, eg, high schools, technical colleges, etc.): Our network consists of 27 school districts, CESA 11, and 4 post secondary members: UWBC, UWRF, WITC-RL, and WITC-NR. At every site, we have a dedicated ITV facilitator that supports instruction and the equipment.
Our member sites are located in these Wisconsin counties: The Northern Lights Network (NLN) can be found in 8 counties: Burnett, Washburn, Polk, Barron, St. Croix, Dunn, Pierce, and Merril High School in Lincoln County.
An interesting program we recently provided was: For the first time this year, we offered 2 storytelling sessions for elementary students. Holly Jolly read "The Mouse Before Christmas" to 896 kids over a 2 day period. Our biggest challenge was to prepare the 896 "make & take it" Chirstmas mice! Due to popular demand, this month Miss Smith will read a story about dinosaurs during another 2 day session.
A showcase program we are offering is: We offer ACT Prep classes for high school students from 6-8pm. This 4 session evening course helps prepare high school students for the ACT test. We offered 4 different classes on the Northern Lights Network during the month of March.
The number of programs we offer on a typical day is: We provide about 50 high school and post secondary courses on our network each semester.
Audiences attending our programs include: Our daytime courses target high school students. Our evening courses, usually sponsored by post secondary schools and community ed, are offered to adults in the community. Meetings and staff development programs involve CESAs and school district staff.
A typical day at our network involves: CESA 11 supports a Help Desk and scheduling coordination for all of our 32 members. Our phone and email services are very busy.
Our most surprising success story was: We surveyed our students and staff involved with the Northern Lights Network using an on-line survey tool to see how satisfied they are with video distance learning. Results of the survey were instantaneous; eliminating hours of compilation of the data. What a pleasant surprise! Almost all of the students surveyed said they would like to take another ITV course and most of the staff said that the distance learning network has provided educational opportunities and they are glad they have video classes in their school district.
Our favorite tip for distance education teachers is: "Be flexible so you don't get bent our of shape." With 4 school schedules to coordinate for each class, there are many days that require a "Plan B". We provide a 3 day workshop each summer for new ITV instructors and facilitators so they know what to expect. They can prepare for the challenges of teaching and learning from a distance.
A popular topic area for our courses this year is: Two new areas that were added to our offerings this year were computer programming and personal finance. Our NLN Programming Team, consisting of high school principals and counselors from each school district, has interest in adding more AP courses to our course selections.
On average, the number of people attending our programs last year was: About 715 students attended our daytime NLN classes each semester.
Students taking our programs often comment on: Students enjoy meeting new friends from other schools. They are glad to be able to take courses that are not offered in their own high schools.
A Virtual Field Trip we offered helped students learn about: This year we offered 21 virtual field trips on Open Heart Surgeries, Autopsies, and Knee Surgeries for Physiology and Anatomy and Advanced Biology students. Students usually travel by bus to CESA 11's conference center to view the program on a large screen. They can ask questions of the surgeons and other surgical staff members right during the operations. (We had a few queasy students, but only one student fainted.)
An interesting thing about our network is: We are one of the largest distance learning networks in Wisconsin which allows for a wide variety of programming opportunities.
At our network, we try our best to: We try to provide prompt service to solve technical issues from our Northern Lights Network Help Desk. We lose very few class sessions due to techical problems.
For more information contact: Jane Manske, Director
Connie Manske, Assistant
CESA 11 in Turtle Lake, WI
Our Network's web site url is: www.cesa11.k12.wi.us/northernlights/