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.

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