HETS Receives a Special Award from NASA

Monday 24th of January 2005
HETS Receives a Special Award from NASA
On September, 2004, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) honored the Hispanic Educational Telecommunications System (HETS) with the Group Achievement Award for its participation in the NASA Learning through Interactive Videoconferencing Experiences (LIVE) Program. This initiative, part of an alliance between NASA and HETS, uses videoconferencing to connect NASA’s researchers with Hispanic students attending colleges and universities affiliated with the Consortium. Thus, the investigators can share their scientific and engineering experiences and expertise.
One of the most successful videoconferences, coordinated by HETS and the NASA LIVE Program, was the one offered by Dr. Orlando Figueroa, Director of the Mars Exploration Program Office, on October 31st, 2002. The videoconference of this Puerto Rican scientific was transmitted simultaneously to a large group of students from the University of Puerto Rico at the Mayaguez Campus (his alma mater) and Bayamóm Campus.
At this moment, the HETS staff is in conversations with the Director of the NASA LIVE Program to explore the possibility of producing series of educational videoconferences to be transmitted to the HETS member institutions interested next semester.
For more information about HETS and its projects, visit www.hets.org and virtualplaza.org.
By Yubelkys Montalvo

HETS welcomes three new member institutions

The Hispanic Educational Telecommunications System (HETS) received at the beginning of this semester the membership requests from Kutztown University in Pennsylvania, National University in La Jolla, California, and the New Jersey City University, as a part of the outreach efforts done recently to affiliate new member institutions. HETS has now a membership of 22 leading higher education institutions in Puerto Rico, Colombia, and states such as California, Florida, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Founded in 1993, the consortium is the nation’s first bilingual distance education consortium and has its headquarters on the Inter American University of Puerto Rico.

The new HETS member institutions have the commitment of offering to their students a quality educational face to face experience, as well as at a distance. Each of them has unique characteristics that contribute to the enrichment and diversity of the Consortium. Kutztown University is a member of the State system of Higher Education of Pennsylvania. Kutztown University is committed to continuous improvement, partnerships, and collaborations that encourage the development of citizens who contribute to a global society. Currently 8,200 students from 20 states and 40 countries are enrolled at this university.

National University, a 4-year private, not-for-profit university system, is a leader in online education, offering numerous online graduate and undergraduate degree programs, as well as credential and certificate programs. It’s dedicated to making lifelong adult learning opportunities accessible, challenging and relevant to a diverse population of adult learners. National University in La Jolla, has a total enrollment of 16,848 students, out of which 16% are of a Hispanic origin.

New Jersey City University, which is New Jersey’s only public urban college, is the premier cooperative education college in the state of New Jersey. It is also a leader in distance learning, offering courses and degree programs online, as well as valuable web-based support services for their students.

HETS is currently redesigning its website, adding the best links numerous online resources, courses, and programs that member institutions have already located in their own websites. This will give other member institutions the opportunity of sharing valuable online learning and student support resources that may provide a greater access to Hispanic students through the HETS portal. Also, HETS is looking forward to fostering new opportunities for building additional partnerships and collaboration initiatives among all its member institutions. For more information about HETS and its projects, visit us at www.hets.org and virtualplaza.org.

Leaders in Higher Ed Explore Policies for Joint Online Programs for Hispanics

San Juan, PR – The Hispanic Educational Telecommunications System (HETS), a unique bilingual distance learning consortium, celebrated its Second Annual Workshop on “Reaching Policy Agreements for Collaboration Initiatives among HETS Partner Institutions,” last June 21-23 in New York. HETS gathered almost 40 higher education leaders from its member institutions to explore agreements and policies needed to help implement three online programs that are being jointly developed by faculty from 10 colleges and universities affiliated to the consortium.

These institutional leaders met to help build multi-campus support for the online, professional certificate programs in cross-cultural health care, bilingual journalism, and security management, and to discuss key academic, administrative, financial, and marketing issues impacting the implementation of these first collaborative initiatives. Furthermore, the Consortium’s Board of Directors made important decisions in areas related to the joint initiatives such as pricing, launch dates, and profit distribution.

The workshop, which coincided with this year’s HETS Board of Directors meeting, focused on strategies to transcend individual campus policy differences to foster more online education partnerships. HETS ultimate goal is to increase Hispanic college graduation rates with the anywhere/anytime reach of Internet-based learning approaches to overcome the barriers of cost, language, and geography in reaching out to the country’s largest ethnic population.

“Our workshops for institutional leaders make up an important part of the consortium’s strategies to enhance the benefits of online learning initiatives within, among, and outside our member institutions,” said HETS Executive Director Nitza M. Hernández. “The involvement of academic deans, registrars, distance learning directors, and finance officers from our partner institutions through this past workshop shows their genuine interest to help HETS in widening educational and training opportunities for Hispanic learners,” Hernández added. HETS financial support to inter-institutional collaboration initiatives has been possible thanks to a grant from the Fund for the Improvement of Post Secondary Education (FIPSE), now in its last year of implementation.

This year’s workshop was co-sponsored by Kansas State University’s Institute for Academic Alliances. The Institute’s executive staff facilitated the sessions and expert advice, along with leaders from Montana State University, the Electronic Campus of the Southern Regional Education Board, and the Western Cooperative for Educational Telecommunications. A distance learning alliances consulting grant that KSU received this year from the Fund for Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) supported their co-sponsorship of the HETS workshop.

HETS is the nation’s first bilingual distance education consortium with a membership base of 20 leading higher education institutions in Puerto Rico and states such as California, Florida, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Founded in 1993, the consortium has received grants from the US Department of Commerce and the Fund for Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) of the U.S. Department of Education. HETS is now expanding its outreach to more Hispanic-serving institutions, top-100 colleges and universities graduating Hispanics, and distinguished universities in Latin America.

HETS, with headquarters at the Inter American University of Puerto Rico and regional offices at the Borough of Manhattan Community College of the City University of New York, developed the first bilingual Virtual Learning and Support Plaza at www.virtualplaza.org with a grant support from FIPSE and in-kind contributions from member institutions and corporate partners. The Virtual Plaza features interactive, 24-hour access to online networking, partnership-building and information resources, college and career mentoring for students, academic programs and faculty training initiatives for a growing online familia of students, educators, partners and sponsors.

For more information, contact HETS central office at (787) 766-1912, extension 2221, or visit www.hets.org and virtualplaza.org.

Student Focus Group Offers Praise for HETS Online Mentoring Initiative

An inaugural student focus group offered high marks and encouragement to spread the word to more college students about an innovative online mentoring program from the Hispanic Educational Telecommunications System (HETS). HETS on April 22 hosted the focus group of 24 student leaders from five HETS-member colleges and universities in Puerto Rico to ask for advice on improving the reach and results of the Virtual Learning and Support Plaza. HETS developed the first bilingual, interactive e-mentoring and higher education services Internet portal at www.virtualplaza.org.

The students praised the online mentoring initiative for providing academic support and practical information on the world of work from trained volunteers in college and career fields representing a wide array of professions. Students are offered the free e-mentoring support in English and Spanish matching their academic and career interests through the anytime/anywhere reach of the 24-hour web site.

Students also gave high marks to the cultural “comfort zone” of a web site that offers them the support of a diverse family of “cyber-godparents” (cyber-padrinos/cyber-madrinas) as a resource for experiencing different cultures, perspectives, career experiences and languages. Domingo Benítez, a student at the University of the Sacred Heart in Puerto Rico, said the Virtual Plaza allows students to “form a real image of the working world” and focus on specific skills that will best benefit their career goals. While online education is a valuable tool that can expand access to knowledge far beyond the physical borders of a student’s home campus, the concept of online learning still is relatively new for many students, he added. “Online education can be a good learning method, but it needs to become more widely known,” Benítez said.

Mariela de Jesús, a major in chemical engineering at Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico, said students accustomed to interacting with traditional campus counselors must become more familiar with the concept of “virtual” mentors. “Although a virtual mentor is going to have a lot more time available, one always misses `seeing’ the person who is helping you,” she said.

The focus group cited the advantages of having access to virtual mentors that allow students to bypass traditional campus counseling office hours and appointment schedules. The students also praised the potential reach of the Virtual Plaza to any participating campus. Important qualities for e-mentors, according to the student focus group, are professionals willing to share their experiences with both career successes and obstacles. Cyber-godparents should be warm, objective, accessible and genuinely interested in meeting the college and career needs of their “cyber-godchild,” the students agreed.

The results of the student focus group meeting will contribute to efforts to enhance the reach of HETS, the first telecommunications consortium established to serve the higher education needs of Hispanic communities through bilingual distance education. The 18-member consortium of higher education institutions in California, Florida, New Mexico, New York, Puerto Rico and Texas – with an affiliated member in Colombia – has its headquarters at the Inter American University of Puerto Rico.

The Virtual Plaza developed by HETS is funded in part with a grant from the Learning Anytime Anywhere Partnerships (LAAP) program of the U.S. Department of Education Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education. For more information, visit www.virtualplaza.org.

University of Texas at Brownsville, U.S. Leading Institution in the HETS e-Mentoring Program

Hispanic students at the University of Texas at Brownsville are receiving new help in earning their college degrees and an invaluable head start on their future careers, thanks to the university’s leadership role in an innovative e-Mentoring partnership.

The University of Texas at Brownsville (UTB) is a founding member of the Hispanic Educational Telecommunications System (HETS), the first U.S. bilingual online distance learning consortium dedicated to serving the higher education needs of the country’s youngest and largest ethnic population.

UTB is a leader in the development of the acclaimed HETS e-Mentoring Program, which provides participating students, free online support from top professors and leading Hispanic professionals in fields matched to each student’s career goals.

Approximately 50 UTB students have participated since 2002 in a program that provides them “anytime” Internet access to trained mentors. UTB professors representing an array of academic disciplines have integrated the popular program within their courses at a university with a predominantly Hispanic student enrollment.

“For our students, especially those representing a minority population that continues to be under-represented in most professions requiring a college degree, this program is making them aware of the great opportunities that await them,” said Dr. Mahmoud Quweider, Chair of the Department of Computer Science at the UTB College of Science, Math and Technology.

“This program offers a great opportunity for students to be involved in and be in touch with industry professionals who can put the course they are taking into perspective with respect to their future careers. Students also benefit by reading the success stories of their mentors who are working at some of the most prestigious corporations in America,” Quweider said.

Like students at other HETS member colleges and universities, UTB students receive guidance and support from professionals who also serve as role models in a national program designed to increase Hispanic higher education student retention rates and to increase Hispanic representation in U.S. workforce and management ranks. Students also learn the technical and communications skills in high demand in today’s competitive corporate arena.

“My students had the opportunity to interact with professional mentors, most of them from the IBM Corporation, in the area of Information Technology,” said Dr. Juan Iglesias, an assistant professor in the UTB Computer Science Department.

“They exchanged valuable information that helps promote student retention and professional development, and they learned new skills such as how to conduct a successful job interview and how to deal with the transition from college to work,” Iglesias said. “This was in addition to hearing inspiring success stories.”

HETS developed the first bilingual e-mentoring and higher education support services Internet portal, the Virtual Learning and Support Plaza, at www.virtualplaza.org, as an interactive, online meeting place and cultural comfort zone for students and mentors participating in the HETS e-Mentoring Program.

The HETS e-Mentoring Program is available to students at HETS member colleges and universities in Texas, California, Florida, New Mexico, New York and Puerto Rico, and is continually expanding its network of volunteer e-Mentors.

AT UTB, which has been at the forefront of engaging students in the HETS e-Mentoring Program, the results have been remarkable, Quweider said.

“You can see the consensus that the program is making a difference for our students and for their future career expectations. Our students have had great confidence instilled in them, and are starting to look forward to their graduation day,” Quweider said.

For more information about HETS and its projects, visit www.hets.org and virtualplaza.org.

HETS is awarded with an IBM Grant

Friday 21st of January 2005
HETS is awarded with an IBM Grant
The Hispanic Educational Telecommunications System (HETS) is pleased to announce that the IBM Corporation has awarded HETS with an $8,000 technology grant in support of the innovative online mentoring program that is part of the Virtual Plaza online portal.
The IBM grant ensures the continuation of the HETS e-Mentoring Program, an initiative in which IBM employees have served as online mentors for college students in selected colleges and universities since 2001. The e-Mentoring Program has proven successful in achieving its goals to a modest scale. Since the program began, over 200 students and more than 70 IBM employees have participated in this initiative. In 2003, HETS expanded this program to other corporations like Banco Popular, Hamilton Sundstrand, Destilería Serralles, Tech Heads de PR, Badillo Nazca, and Comstat Rowland.
The e-Mentoring Program is part of the Virtual Plaza (www.virtualplaza.org), a bilingual web site developed by HETS to harness different Internet technologies and help bridge the digital divide for Hispanic college students. This portal was developed with a grant from the Fund for Improvement of Post Secondary Education (FIPSE) of the US Department of Education, and in-kind contributions of HETS member institutions. With the LAAP grant coming to an end, HETS needs to institutionalize this project and move the website from the private vendor’s server that is hosting it to the consortium’s headquarters at the Inter American University of Puerto Rico. The in-house administration of the Virtual Plaza will empower HETS to manage more effectively the technical features and contents of the portal, and continue enhancing the student support services online.
IBM’s grant consists of wireless laptops, a laser printer and a desktop computer to support the daily operations and the continuous initiatives of the HETS Consortium.
The HETS main office has been located at the Inter American University of Puerto Rico since October 2001. As December 2004, HETS has affiliated with 22 institutions in California, Florida, New Jersey, New York, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Texas, as well as Puerto Rico and its first international member in Colombia.
By Yubelkys Montalvo

HETS Honors Faculty Leadership in Collaborative Initiatives

Recently, the HETS Consortium recognized the work and leadership of those partners involved in its Online Learning Collaboration Initiatives through the creation of the Online Learning Collaboration Leadership Award. HETS has designated $1,000 from its FIPSE-LAAP funds to make available this Award, in recognition to a faculty leader who is facilitating the collaboration processes and advancing the creation of a new online program that will benefit HETS member institutions and the Hispanic learners, at large.

Dr. Keville Frederickson, Nursing Professor, Lehman College.

Through this special Award, the Consortium would like to honor the work of the Project Leader who has fulfilled the leading expectations of the HETS office and the overall requirements for guiding an effective partnership among academic collaborators. “For HETS, it is extremely important to acknowledge the efforts of those who, not only lead the work of the group members in a collaborative effort, but also administer the program outstandingly. This is why the Consortium established the Online Learning Collaboration Leadership Award.”, indicated Dr. Nitza Hernandez, HETS Executive Director.

The first leadership award recipient was Dr. Keville Frederickson, Nursing faculty member at Lehman College and Project Leader for the HETS Cross-Cultural Health Care Collaboration Initiative. This Leader was selected after a careful analysis of the basic principles needed for achieving effective collaboration and leadership, and considering the goals and needs of the HETS Online Learning Collaboration Initiatives Program.

Dr. Frederickson has performed with an exceptional academic leadership and administrative work, in order to make possible the creation of an online certificate program in Cross-Cultural Health Care. Since June 2003, this Project Leader has been effectively organizing efforts from eight different HETS member institutions in California, Texas, New York, and Puerto Rico. Dr. Frederickson has communicated continuously and effectively with her partners, managing the fiscal part of the project, and creating her own online module for the program, without any compensation for her work. This voluntary work has been almost a full-time job, besides her role as a full-time Nursing professor.

The HETS Online Learning Collaboration Initiatives Program fosters partnership initiatives among member institutions that result in the creation of unique joint online minors, continuing education certificates, and professional programs. It is one of the HETS programs funded with the US Department of Education´s Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE), since September 2002. So far, more than 50 faculty members and institutional administrators from 14 higher education institutions have been involved in this program and, as a result, up to date, there are a total of four collaboration initiatives being developed, including three online academic certificate programs and one online student support service.

HETS is the first bilingual consortium with the mission to serve the Hispanic community through distance education. Currently, it has the support of 21 autonomous higher education member institutions in the United States, Puerto Rico and Colombia.

HETS Celebrates Workshop to Support Launching of New Online Learning Programs

The Hispanic Educational Telecommunications System (HETS) will be celebrating its Second Annual Workshop for Institutional Leaders on Inter-institutional Collaboration from June 21st to the 23rd in New York City, as informed by Dr. Nitza Hernandez, the Consortium’s Executive Director. This year’s workshop on “Reaching Policy Agreements for Collaboration Initiatives among HETS Partner Institutions” intends to foster administrative strategies in support of three online professional certificate programs being developed by ten HETS partner institutions.

The faculty working toward online academic programs in Bilingual Journalism, Security Management, and Cross-Cultural Health Care will have the opportunity to find out, with their administrative leaders, effective ways of making inter-institutional academic collaboration work beyond distance, institutional, and policy barriers. This time, the HETS annual workshop has been designed for top level institutional administrators who will be guided to work with faculty and academic leaders involved in the HETS Online Learning Collaboration Initiatives. The goal is to reach financial and academic agreements that will help launch the online programs in progress. This great effort constitutes part of the collaborative strategies established through the HETS’ Learning Anytime Anywhere Partnerships (LAAP) project, now in its last year of implementation with a grant from the Fund for the Improvement of Post Secondary Education (FIPSE).

The executive staff of the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (GPIDEA) at Kansas State University will help facilitate the workshop sessions, together with outstanding leaders from Montana State University, the Electronic Campus of the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), and the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCACS). GPIDEA is actually co-sponsoring this HETS workshop as part of another grant support they have received from FIPSE to offer expert consulting to other consortia organizations and universities that are trying to build alliances for distance learning. Due to the transcending significance of this workshop, observers from the Western State Commission of Higher Education (WICHE) will be attending in order to learn more from this inter-institutional collaboration process.

“Our workshops for institutional leaders make up an important part of the Consortium’s strategies to keep enhancing the benefits of online learning initiatives within, among, and outside our member institutions. This Second Annual Workshop could be the setting for the creation of new alliances and online initiatives to widen educational and training opportunities for Hispanic learners”, said the HETS Executive Director.

Last year’s workshop brought about the interest of a vast group of academic leaders who actively engaged in working jointly towards the creation of new online learning opportunities for Hispanic students. The Second Annual Workshop for Institutional Leaders will take place concurrently with this year’s HETS Board of Directors Meeting.

Contact information: Wilmarie LaTorre, HETS-LAAP Executive Assistant. Tel. 766-1912, ext. 2221.

Representatives from 8 Institutions Meet in PR towards Inter-institutional Collaboration

Recently, eight HETS member institutions from across the United States and Puerto Rico, met at the Inter American University of PR, Central Office, during the first meeting towards inter-institutional collaboration to develop an online program in Cross Cultural Health Care.

Deans, professors and head of departments from nursing and health related sciences from California State University-Dominguez Hills, California State University at Bakersfield, University of Texas Pan-American, University of Texas at Brownsville, Herbert H. Lehman College (NY), Queensborough Community College (NY), and Eugenio M. de Hostos (NY), and Inter American University of PR, joined to discuss and develop strategies for the development of the Cross Cultural Healthcare online program.

The Cross-Cultural Health Care program has been designed with a focus on developing cultural awareness, sensitivity and competence in nursing professionals to improve the care of Hispanic clients. It will be comprised of nine web-based modules that are been developed, focusing on understanding the influence that culture has on beliefs and behaviors.

“Knowledge and skill related to caring for clients of many cultures is a necessity for other health care professions as well as for nursing. This project provides Lehman College the unique opportunity of collaborating with other Hispanic serving institutions. The bonds that have developed among the nine colleges and universities are establishing connections that unite us for this project but also for future relationships and endeavors”, declared Dr. Keville Frederickson, Nursing professor at Lehman College.

One of the modules discusses the heritage, basic beliefs, customs and traditions, particularly those that affect health care, of four different Hispanic groups coming from Puerto Rico, Mexico, Dominican Republic, and Central America. The purpose of this module is to sensitize care providers to the variety and differences among the Hispanic community.

Additionally, all nine modules will be translated into Spanish, therefore all modules will be bilingual, further recognizing special language needs of Hispanic health care providers.

The following representatives are collaborating in this innovative initiative: Dr. Keville Frederickson (Lehman), Dr. William Mcintyre (UTPA), Carole A. Shea (CSUDH), Iris Colón (IAU), Lydia Ayala (IAU), Elaine Dellavecchia (QCC), Susan Pfettscher (CSUB), Miriam Zavala (Lehman).

For more information about HETS and its projects, visit www.hets.org and virtualplaza.org.

CSU Dominguez Hills and Fullerton Sign Engineering Partnership

CARSON, Calif. – Two CSU campuses signed an agreement last week that will establish a landmark partnership in which students can obtain a bachelor of science in physics from California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) with an option in electrical engineering by attending engineering classes at CSU Fullerton.

The agreement for the pilot program was recently signed by Selase Williams, dean, College of Arts and Sciences, and Kenneth Ganezer, professor of physics, and Raman Unnikrishnan, dean of CSU Fullerton’s College of Engineering and Computer Science, and Mostafa Shiva, CSUF professor of electrical engineering.

“The program is a perfect partnership and represents the type of collaboration that CSU Chancellor Charles Reed wants,” Williams said.
“In this time of a severe budget crisis, it’s appropriate that the two campuses work together, and that this program is finalized during National Engineering Week and a time when we have two robotic devices on Mars,” said Ganezer.

The new program will welcome five to 10 students in the fall and is expected to grow in the future. Students will take 14 units of electrical engineering courses on their way to completing the B.S. in physics. Students in the program will also get a head start on pursuing graduate level engineering work at CSU Fullerton.

“The program involving the two universities is a unique model of collaboration,” said Keith Boyum, associate vice president for academic programs at CSUF. “It benefits the physics program at Dominguez Hills by offering students the electrical engineering option, along with a vehicle for direct admission into Fullerton’s master’s program in electrical engineering.”

“It’s a ’win-win’ for taxpayers,” said Boyum, “because Dominguez Hills does not have to pay expensive start-up costs for an engineering program, and Cal State Fullerton can utilize existing faculty and facilities for undergraduate Dominguez Hills physics majors.”

Linda W. Patton, director of grants and contracts at CSUF, and Clementine Sessoms, coordinator of federal programs, College of Arts and Sciences at CSUDH, agree that the program could lead to scholarship grants for participating students from agencies such as NASA and the National Science Foundation.

The genesis for the collaborative effort came about early in 2003 at a regional NASA conference that involved minority-serving institutions, including representatives from the two campuses. A few weeks later during Engineering Week, CSUF faculty members and others met with CSUDH officials. Jesa Kreiner, CSUF engineering division chair, proposed the idea of a collaborative program with CSUDH. Following a series of meetings and negotiations, the agreement was signed, just one year later.

Once the pilot program is underway and proves successful, other disciplines, such as mechanical engineering and computer engineering, may be added as other engineering options for CSUDH students.

Unnikrishnan, who has overseen similar partnerships when he served at the Rochester Institute of Technology in upstate New York, noted that this collaborative program is at the forefront in the CSU. He added that a wide array of career opportunities exist for electrical engineers, especially in Orange County’s systems-oriented industries that involve chip design, aviation, medical imaging, medical appliances and other fields.

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