Success Story
Release No.STELPRD4013447
BROWNING SCHOOL DISTRICT IN MONTANA
, Dec 11, 2011 --

USDA Rural Development

Telecommunications Program

Success Story: Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program;

Browning School District #9

Montana

Need:

Browning School District rests on the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Northwestern Montana. Many of the schools are located on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation and there are a total of twelve rural schools that were in need of distance learning equipment. The distance learning equipment would provide enhanced educational opportunities that all Browning School Districts students could enjoy.

How Rural Development Helped:

Browning School District received a Rural Development Distance Learning and Telemedicine grant in 2009 worth $498,746 to help fund the purchase of distance learning equipment for all twelve rural schools. The equipment received included videoconferencing equipment which allowed for increases in academic resources that were previously unavailable.

Result:

As a result of USDA funding, Browning School District was able to implement the use of distance learning equipment to broaden the educational opportunities of the school district. The school district was able to provide students with virtual field trips, advanced placement classes and even set up a video conference with United States Senator of Montana, Jon Tester from his office in Washington D.C.

The distance learning equipment provided students the ability to take virtual field trips all across the country, that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible. They virtually visited the archival section of the Denver Museum, explored the canyons of the Southwest, experienced Minnesota’s wolf habitat and even took a trip to Yellowstone, where they learned about bear hibernations.

The videoconferencing equipment also provided one 3rd grade class an exciting cross-culture experience with another 3rd grade classroom from Alaska located on the coast of the Bering Sea. The Alaska school was able to set up video equipment to show a Dog Sled race as it raced through their village. The Browning students were then able to ask questions directly to the Dog Sled racers and enjoyed it so much that it prompted another videoconference between the two schools. Through the use of Skype, the Browning students put on a virtual mini-powwow for the Alaska students by displaying native dances and performing local songs. The mini-powwow was such a success that the Alaska teacher said “before it was over we had the entire school was watching the presentation”. The Browning School District is continuing to learn the abilities of their new equipment and hopes to continue these great experiences and expand the knowledge of all their students through the use of their distance learning equipment.

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