ORU Gets Financial Boost From New River CTC
Marlinton, WV – A little over a year ago, the One Room University was just the somewhat nebulous dream of Pocahontas County Coordinator Jay Miller. Beginning this fall that dream will become reality as a two year demonstration project gets underway thanks to partnerships with New River Community and Technical College, City National Bank and the Pocahontas County Commission.
Using Interactive Video Networking, multiple students will be able to access multiple classes offered by New River simultaneously. And they’ll all be able to do that from one location on the second floor of City National Bank in Marlinton. Miller says while the county and New River will share in the cost of the furniture for the ORU, New River is picking up the tab on a lot of the other costs involved.
“All the computer equipment and telephone lines, the cost of that has been taken by New River” says Miller, “and that amounts to a lot of money.
Thousands of dollars up front and then just the phone lines themselves are a big commitment on a monthly basis that the County Commission is not going to have to spend money. In addition to that, New River is paying the salary of the site supervisor Elaine Diller; which until now the County Commission has been paying that.”
New River is also providing other supplies such as a printer, white boards and all of the furniture in the classroom that will be used for some courses. Site Supervisor Elaine Diller says they owe a debt of gratitude to City National Bank as well.
“City National Bank has provided a beautiful space and the lounge furniture” says Diller, “where the students will be is a wi-fi hotspot, and where there’ll be vending machines, all the furniture in there is from City National. And they’ve been very generous with restrooms; everything is ready to go.”
Diller says her roleis a continually changing work in progress. She will become an official employee of New River on July 1st.
“I’m still grappling with [it], I already do a newsletter and a lot of networking with prospective students” she says. “I will be working 20 hours a week with New River as their employee and I understand that once I am their employee I’ll be given training in registering students and more day to day activities that take place in Lewisburg at this point. My role will increase that way, administratively I guess that is.”
Diller says she and a to be hired assistant will staff the ORU to cover the 4 days a week, 14 hours a day schedule required by New River’s curriculum. She’ll also provide technical assistance as needed with a little help from New River’s Beckley campus. But she sees the ORU as more than just the classes being offered.
“I want students to use this place not just for the class time, but the before and after and socializing and providing a positive environment for young adults to meet who have goals” she says. “And can discuss those goals, can meet each other, meet other peers who have similar goals and just lift them up a little bit.”
Jay Miller says he wants people to understand that the ORU is not simply another online class.
“Some people think that because it involves computers and telephone lines, that’s online courses of which they’ve either seen or heard about and they have an impression of already of what we’re doing” says Miller, “without understanding that an interactive video network class is just like attending a live class. You have to show up when the class is scheduled, you just don’t have to show up in Lewisburg, or Beckley, or Summersville. You show up here, you log in, attendance is taken, and while you’re in the class, you have a head set on, there’s a camera on you so that the teacher can see you; it’s two-way audio-video and it’s live.”
Each student sits in an enclosed booth or carrel, constructed by Miller with help from the New River wood shop. Miller says New River has used IVN technology for some time, but usually in a setting with a teacher broadcasting to multiple students. This one-on-one interaction is something entirely different and if successful, may be expanded to other locations in the state.