HETS Promotes Growth and Quality of Online Learning through Series of Events

Monday 14th of February 2005
HETS Promotes Growth and Quality of Online Learning through Series of Events
The Hispanic Educational Telecommunication System (HETS) has been actively involved in creating and delivering a series of conferences and workshops to encourage the growth and quality of online learning and online student support among higher education institutions from both US and Puerto Rico. During the past two months, two conferences on Quality Indicators in the Production of Virtual Courses and Working with Student Diversity in Online Instruction, both delivered in Spanish, have benefited faculty, administrators, and student support staff from institutions in Puerto Rico.
“These conferences are a very important part of the Consortium’s newest efforts to impact its member institutions, help improve online learning practices, and get closer to higher education institutions in Puerto Rico, where HETS is currently headquartered”, said Dr. Nitza Hernández, HETS Executive Director.
Last January, concurrently with the meeting of its Board of Directors, HETS sponsored a conference on quality indicators in the production of virtual courses (Diseño e Indicadores de Calidad en la Producción de Cursos Virtuales), focused particularly on a Latin American model for Distance Learning. This conference was delivered by Dr. Maritza Rondón, Director of UNAB Virtual, the virtual college of Universidad Autónoma de Bucaramanga, in Colombia (UNAB). This university, which is at the vanguard of e-learning in Latin America, is the first international member of HETS.
Through her conference, Dr. Rondón explained the processes structured and followed by UNAB Virtual to design and deliver online courses, maintaining the quality of the instructional design and the basic pedagogical principles, as well as ensuring the best learning experience for the student. UNAB Virtual has a rich catalog of online programs, at undergraduate and graduate levels, and online professional certificates in areas such as Education, Public Administration, Law, Education with New Technologies, and Computer Sciences, among others. Besides its virtual offerings, UNAB holds collaborative agreements with other organizations to train faculty in online teaching.
“HETS is strongly committed to being an advocate for quality issues in online learning, and the best way to start is by bringing the information and resources to its members”, added Dr. Hernández.
On January 27, HETS convened its Puerto Rico members, as well as other higher education institutions in the Island, to a conference-dialogue with Dr. Henry Ingle on student diversity in online instruction. Dr. Ingle is an online professor for the University of Texas, El Paso and offers online courses in areas related to new information technologies, diversity and multiculturalism, and global and international communications, among others. Ingle has served in varied administrative and academic leadership roles, which include Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, Assistant Vice President for Technology Planning, and Director of the Office of Technology Planning and Distance Learning,
Ingle’s presentation, “One Size Does Not Fit All: Working with Student Diversity in Online Instruction” , covered the contrasting concerns about education when dealing with student diversity, as well as strategies for designing instruction with a conscious commitment to the changing diversity of the student population. As stated by Ingle, coping with student diversity in online instruction implies understanding and targeting different learning styles, as well as unique backgrounds. It also requires the acceptance of language and communication differences, and being able to deal with various comfort levels for learning at a distance. Above all, online instruction makes it critical to comprehend the convergence and divergence in the roles of the teacher and the learner. Moreover, Dr. Ingle’s presentation, characterized by an active discussion between the speaker and the audience, pointed out the impact of online instruction in the teaching workforce.
HETS conferences and workshops to support, not only online teaching, but also online support services, will continue through the rest of the year with the collaboration of other colleagues, member institutions, and partner organizations. The Consortium is currently inviting all of its members, non-members, and other interested individuals and organizations to a two-day workshop on Best Practices in Online Student Support Services, which will take place on March 17 and 18, 2005 in San Juan, PR. As a main facilitator, HETS has invited Pat Shea, Assistant Director of the Western Cooperative for Educational Telecommunications (WCET), a leading consortium in the US representing the most innovative thinkers in the use of educational technologies. Pat Shea also heads WCET’s research efforts in online student services, and recently directed a FIPSE-funded project to design Web-based student services.
Other major events being planned for this year include the First Bilingual Virtual Congress on Blending Technology, Cultural Diversity, and Distance Learning in Hispanic Higher Education, from October 19 to October 30, 2005, in partnership with Universia.pr and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU).
For more information on these events and other HETS projects, contact 787-766-1912, extension 2221, or ymontalv@inter.edu
By Wilmarie Latorre

HETS Receives Award for its Innovative Use of Technology

Tuesday 01st of February 2005
HETS Receives Award for its Innovative Use of Technology
Last September 2004, the TechFoundation granted to the Hispanic Educational Telecommunications System (HETS) a $2,500 cash award for its demonstrated commitment to the innovative use of technology in fulfilling its mission. TechGrant is a grant program that provides nonprofit organizations with access to capital to help meet their technology needs. This program focuses directly on funding critical technology needs, while using its electronic newsletter to publicize innovative ways to find capital.
After submitting a Case Study on how the consortium had used technology to serve the needs of its constituencies, HETS was chosen as a finalist, in the international category, out of an exceptional field of candidates. HETS was selected, with another outstanding group of five mainland organizations, among a total of 600 nominations from community leaders, nonprofit executives, and other interested individuals.
HETS”s Case Study highlighted its main projects aimed to help Hispanic college students bridge the digital divide and increase their levels of educational attainment. Through its projects and programs, HETS developed an online community that would bring students, faculty, and professionals together for learning and support. Attention in the Case Study was given to the Consortium’s major achievements during the past five years: the Virtual Learning and Support Plaza, the E-Mentoring Program, and the Online Learning Collaboration Initiatives Program, among others.
TechFoundation established its TechGrants program to identify, assess, and assist nonprofit organizations seeking to implement worthy technology projects that will benefit their local communities or benefit nonprofits everywhere. TechFoundation aspires to implement an increasing number of highly successful projects that will bring quality technology resources to selected nonprofits in the United States, and show that effectively deployed technology can have a great impact on the ability of a nonprofit to achieve their mission (www.techfoundation.org).
Other organizations rewarded with the 2004 TechGrant include the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (San Francisco, CA), the Georgia Center for Nonprofits (Atlanta, GA), Cambridge Community Television (Cambridge, MA), the Center for Court Innovation in New York, and the Public Radio Exchange in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The latter two organizations were awarded with the First and Grand prizes, respectively.
For more information about HETS and its projects, visit www.hets.org and virtualplaza.org.
By Wilmarie Latorre

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.

Board Members Explore Future Directions for HETS

Monday 14th of February 2005
Board Members Explore Future Directions for HETS
Last January 13 and 14, HETS convened a Board of Directors meeting with representatives from fifteen member institutions in California, Colombia, Florida, New Mexico, New York, Puerto Rico, and Texas.
As in previous occasions, this January Board Meeting took place in San Juan, Puerto Rico, at the Central Office of the Inter American University and at the Metropolitan University. The meeting gave space to the introduction of a new HETS member institution, major discussions on the Consortium’s future, and the exploration of new paths towards the strengthening and sustainability of the organization.
The use of a new strategy to help the Consortium achieve its mission, while meeting its member institutions’ needs, made this Board Meeting different from the others. Board Members divided up in three discussion groups to explore the possibilities of institutions collaborating together in other HETS projects, strategies to help achieve the sustainability of the Consortium, and possible areas in which their institutions would like to see themselves involved, among other issues.
During discussions related to the value and contribution of HETS to its members, HETS’s role as a networking organization was pointed out as one of the main added values for all affiliated institutions. Among other benefits, member institutions have the opportunity to relate to and collaborate with a diversity of other higher education institutions for distance learning initiatives. Last year, HETS met the goal of adding two new institutions to its membership of 20 universities and colleges, as presented by Dr. Nitza Hernandez, HETS Executive Director, during her report to the Board of Directors. The Executive Director attended a total of five different conferences around several states and Puerto Rico to promote and share with other partner organizations the Consortium’s projects, accomplishments, and mission.
As informed by Dr. Hernandez, HETS is currently competing for a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) through a project intended to meet the needs of nurses for continuing education on cultural competence. This project is expected to help HETS achieve sustainability by offering a certification as a continuing education credit provider, cross-licensing of contents among partner institutions, and affiliations of non-partners. In order to support the Consortium’s sustainability and continuation, the HETS staff is also moving towards obtaining funding for capacity building. HETS Board Chair and President of the Inter American University of Puerto Rico, Dr. Manuel Fernós highlighted the shared resources for student support services that HETS member institutions could provide, like online tutoring services in the areas of language, math and information technology skills.
Upcoming issues and strategies presented at this Board Meeting included finding solutions for pricing, enrollment, and quality control with regards to the HETS Online Learning Collaboration Initiatives, a HETS project consisting of the creation of collaborative online programs that meet the needs of the Hispanic workforce. Some of the issues related to articulation agreements for the Online Learning Collaboration Initiatives were addressed when Dr. Ricardo Fernandez, President of the Lehman College, informed his strategies to reach an agreement with the City University of New York (CUNY). This is a really important step, since four of the thirteen (13) institutions involved in the collaborative initiatives are part of the CUNY system and need to articulate agreements in order to succeed.
This Board Meeting gave also place to the presentation of the Consortium’s newest institutional member, Bronx Community College, presided by Dr. Carolyn Williams. Dr. Williams delivered a brief presentation on her institution, and presented their institutional DVD to help the rest of the Board Members and HETS get better acquainted with this new member.
HETS next Board meeting was scheduled to take place on June 21 & 22 at the University of Texas Brownsville. For more information and recent news, contact HETS through 787-766-1912, extension 2221, or ymontalv@inter.edu.
By Wilmarie Latorre

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.

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