News Release

Published on Friday, June 22, 2007

Western Technical College-Independence Campus was recently honored by the Wisconsin PK-16 Leadership Council for a collaborative initiative between the college and several local high schools.

The Council presented the Promising Practice award to Western’s Independence Campus Administrator Jennifer Brave at their meeting on Wednesday, June 13 in Madison. The award identifies best practices in educational collaboration based on applications submitted by pre-kindergarten through college-level educational institutions throughout the state.

The program that earned the award is called: Educational Enhancement and Collaboration between Project CIRCUIT and Western Technical College via Interactive Television/Distance Learning. The purpose of the program is to provide expanded educational opportunities in a cost-effective manner to the rural school districts and students of the Project CIRCUIT network.

The Background
Project CIRCUIT (Curriculum Improvement Resulting from the Creative Use of Instructional Television) was founded in 1978 to address the need for enhanced course offerings to the rural school districts of Trempealeau Valley. Members of Project CIRCUIT include eight area high schools: Alma Center-Humbird-Merrillan, Arcadia, Blair Taylor, Eleva Strum, Galesville-Ettrick-Trempealeau, Independence, Osseo, and Whitehall.

The first shared class offerings were started in 1981 as a cable television based network. As the popularity and integrity of this form of distance learning education grew, Project CIRCUIT found that other partnerships were critical to its development of expanded educational offerings.

In response, a partnership was created in 1996 between Western Technical College – Independence Campus, CESA 10, and Project CIRCUIT members. The purpose was not only to enhance the high school curriculum, but to give students the opportunity to: experience first hand the rigor of college level course work, provide exposure to post-secondary general studies courses and occupational related course work, the opportunity to earn dual (high school and post-secondary) credit, and provide the prospect for transferability of college credits to other post secondary institutions. Most importantly, this experience would provide a seamless educational transition for students to post-secondary education while in their high school classrooms.

As a result of the first course planning session with Western Technical College – Independence Campus, the CESA 10 distance learning coordinator, and the Project CIRCUIT high school principals, two three-credit technical college courses were agreed upon. These courses were taught to eight high school students by state-certified Western Technical College faculty.

The Project Today
Since that initial meeting, the collaboration and partnership has continued to grow in course offerings and enrollments. Classes vary from semester to semester and have included: Introduction to Psychology, Introduction to Sociology, Economics, Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Written Communications, Speech, Manual Communication, Medical Terminology, Exploring Health Careers, Introduction to Juvenile Delinquency, and Introduction to Criminal Justice. The course choices chosen by Western and Project CIRCUIT have been based upon: the ability to transfer to other post-secondary institutions, those that will enhance student learning, and classes that will peak interest for high school students in a particular program or discipline.

All of these courses are taught by specially trained staff in the area of distance teaching/learning via interactive television technology. Western faculty teaches from one of the Project CIRCUIT high school studios or Western’s La Crosse Campus studio to a maximum of four other Project CIRCUIT member high schools making this an effective partnership for all.

“We are honored to receive this award from the Leadership Council,” said Brave. “The partners, the instructors, and the participating students see the benefits of the program every day, but it’s great to receive recognition as being among the best practices around the state.”

For more information about this and other programs and services at Western call 715.985.3392 or visit the Web site at westerntc.edu.