November 4, 2003
Purdue Extension Learning Network honors milestones
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. The Learning Network of Clinton County, part of Purdue University's Cooperative Extension Service, will celebrate its many firsts during an event from 5-6:30 p.m. on Nov. 18.
Local citizens, community leaders, government officials, and Purdue faculty and staff are invited to the celebration, which will take place in the 4-H Building at the Clinton County and 4-H Fairgrounds. Former Lt. Gov. John Mutz will be the featured speaker, and refreshments will be served.
Since 2000, the Learning Network of Clinton County has provided a variety of credit and non-credit courses from colleges and universities in Indiana and the United States, on-site classes to enhance life skills and customized training for the local work force, said Susan Tharp, Extension director in Clinton County. These programs and classes are delivered using laptop computers, Internet, satellite, two-way video teleconferencing, CD-ROM, videotape, cable and public TV, correspondence and on-site instruction.
"This celebration allows us to reflect on the many milestones we have achieved," Tharp said. "We are a unique program that is community-based and student-centered, and our citizens motivate us to continue making this a great opportunity for lifelong learning."
Over the last three years, the Learning Network has grown in the amount of programs it offers and the people it serves. Tharp said that the educational center has served more than 2,000 students, one of which recently completed an associate's degree in general arts from Ball State University through distance education classes.
"I couldn't go back to a college campus to get my degree because I needed to work and support my family," said Steve Royer, waterworks senior plant operator from Frankfort, Ind. "It was very convenient to work on the classes at home during the evening.
"I wanted to go back to school for me. I received a great deal of encouragement from the educators at the Learning Network during the two years I took classes and have decided to keep going and get my bachelor's degree through distance education as well."
The Learning Network was the first learning center in Indiana that was developed in partnership with the Purdue Extension Service. In the last three years, six other centers in the state have been developed using this model, Tharp said. The other learning centers are located in Tipton, Marshall, Whitley, Hendricks, Pulaski, Jasper and Newton counties.
When the Learning Center first opened, the technology was available but very few distance education and credit courses were offered. This semester the center offered more than 1,900 distance education courses leading to associate, undergraduate and graduate degrees or certificates. Lifelong learning courses also are available on topics such as conversational Spanish, Microsoft computer applications and nutrition.
"The classes we teach are representative of the population we serve in Clinton County," Tharp said. "For example, we offer a conversational Spanish class because our Hispanic population has grown in the last few years, and we need for our health care workers and community leaders to effectively communicate with these residents."
Sam Cordes, Purdue Extension assistant director and program leader for leadership and community development, said, "The role of the Learning Network is to improve access to lifelong learning opportunities, especially for communities and people that may have been underserved."
Cordes said that the Extension learning centers have formed a partnership with Purdue's Division of Continuing Education to further develop distance education credit courses and degree programs.
The Clinton County site is the first licensed testing center in Indiana for a computer literacy certification, or the International Computer Driving License program. The program is open to anyone wanting to use a personal computer competently and consists of seven modules that enhance the user's computer skills. It also is recognized globally as a certificate of computer proficiency, Tharp said. This program will be on display at the Learning Network's celebration.
To learn more about the Learning Network or to make reservations for the event, call (765) 659-6380 or (765) 296-3511.
Writer: Jennifer Doup, (765) 494-8406, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sources: Susan Tharp, (765) 659-6380, email@example.com
Sam Cordes, (765) 494-3573, firstname.lastname@example.org
Steve Royer, (765) 654-4596