The Hispanic Educational Telecommunications System (HETS) recently granted around $30,000 of its Learning Anytime Anywhere Partnerships (LAAP) grant, from FIPSE, among several member institutions that competed for a planning grant to develop online learning collaboration initiatives. HETS, a consortium of 18 colleges and universities dedicated to expanding Hispanics’ opportunities for higher education through distance learning, started facilitating this inter-institutional collaboration initiative during a workshop offered on last June’s board meeting in New York. Six groups, including almost 50 academic leaders, distance education administrators, and faculty from 13 member institutions in California, Florida, New York, Puerto Rico, and Texas are now working jointly in these inter-institutional initiatives.
HETS selected the six inter-institutional groups, out of nine original proponents who submitted planning proposals or letters of intent to develop online programs or services in several areas of need for Hispanic college students. An Evaluation Committee integrated by prestigious professionals in the fields of distance learning and information technology in higher education thoroughly reviewed all the planning proposals, and submitted their comments and recommendations for the development of the full proposals. The committee members included Dr. Darcy Hardy (University of Texas Telecampus), Dr. Jerónimo Dominguez (University of New Mexico-Albuquerque), Dr. Alex Ramírez (Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities), Dr. Sue Maes (Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance, Kansas State University), and Rusell Poulin (Western Cooperative for Educational Telecommunications).
The Great Plains Alliance (www.gpidea.org), an award-winning multi-state consortium for online programs, has been providing HETS throughout this past year with consulting assistance and staff support for the management of strategies and protocols that can foster inter-institutional collaboration for online learning among its partner institutions. “This new effort for collaboration initiatives foresees that a set of new online programs or services could benefit thousands of Hispanic students around the country, and afford them the opportunity to be admitted to one member institution and study at other member institutions via Internet-based courses”, said Dr. Nitza Hernandez, HETS executive director and director of the consortium’s LAAP program.
The selected inter-institutional groups of the HETS consortium were invited to work jointly on six full proposals for online programs in Business Entrepreneurship, Cross-Cultural Nursing, Security Management, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, and Bilingual Journalism Online. Many of the proposed joint offerings will be bilingual, and will range from associate degrees, minors, or certificate and continuing education programs. One of the groups has envisioned developing a set of Online Learning Tools for Non-Native English Speakers. The six groups will be preparing their full proposals to compete for four program development grants of up to $20,000 each.
The HETS staff, together with the Great Plains Alliance staff, has offered guidance and assistance to the groups involved in the collaboration initiatives throughout constant communication, and has facilitated its teleconferencing system to support their planning meetings at a distance. A few months ago, HETS created a new section for Academic Collaboration in the Virtual Learning and Support Plaza (www.virtualplaza.org) with valuable guiding documents and tools to support these initiatives.
During the months of November and December 2003, the core-planning period for the full proposals, faculty and administrative members of the HETS partner institutions participating in each of the six groups will meet face-to-face in two different sites, in New York and Puerto Rico. In these meetings, the groups will work on their full proposals, which are due on December 5th. The Evaluation Committee will review and recommend the best four proposals for a HETS-LAAP grant, and the HETS staff will notify to the selected participants on December 18th. The four inter-institutional groups selected will be developing their collaboration initiatives from January to August 2004.
Institutions participating in these initiatives include California State University at Bakersfield, California State University Dominguez Hills, Miami Dade College, Borough of Manhattan Community College, Hostos Community College, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Lehman College, Queensborough Community College, Ana G. Méndez University System, Inter American University of Puerto Rico, University of the Sacred Heart, University of Texas at Brownsville, and University of Texas Pan American.