Grant from Governor Noem Expands Distance Learning for South Dakota High School Students

e-learning studio

ABERDEEN, S.D. – Governor Kristi Noem has approved a $468,850 grant from the Coronavirus Relief Fund to help the Northern State University Center for Statewide E-learning handle larger enrollments this fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Currently, 2,400 high school students from 104 South Dakota school districts are served by the E-learning Center. That is an increase of about 22 percent over the entire 2019-20 school year, with spring semester registrations still coming in.

“The grant improves the work of NSU E-learning teachers because it updated the technological infrastructure we rely on to do our work,” said E-learning Principal Mary Cundy.

The grant has funded significant infrastructure upgrades, allowing for more seamless monitoring and support of high school courses that are delivered online. These improvements ensure a better overall product for students.

“This grant has had a tremendous impact on our E-learning Center and the high school students we serve across South Dakota,” said NSU President Dr. Tim Downs. “We are very grateful to Gov. Noem for providing this crucial funding.”

Last spring, Noem praised the efforts of the E-learning Center at a press conference, saying, “Northern’s E-learning Center and others have created greater capacity for supporting remote learning and educational opportunities throughout our state to get the kind of resources out to students that need it, and need to continue their education even though they can’t be in the building.”

So far this year, there has been a steady stream of short-term student absences for quarantines and short-term school closures as a result of the pandemic. When these absences occur, students join their classes from home via a live stream of the class during the scheduled class times or watch recordings of the classes.

“We have about 500 students studying from home long-term. These students are able to interact with their teachers and classmates in real time via their laptops. The quality of their classroom experience is the same, whether they are in classes on site or studying from home,” Cundy said.

About the Center for Statewide E-learning

Established in 2001, the NSU E-learning Center delivers distance education across South Dakota. Master teachers utilize 24 E-learning studios, including nine on the Northern campus and 15 located in teachers’ homes in the following communities: Bridgewater, Claremont, Crooks, Harrisburg, Huron, Ipswich, Letcher, Milbank, Northville, Pierre (two), Rapid City, Vermillion and Webster (two). To learn more, visit the NSU Center for Statewide E-Learning webpage.

About Northern State University

Northern State University is a student-centered institution that provides an outstanding educational experience, preparing students through the liberal arts and professional education for their future endeavors. A regional university, Northern offers rigorous academics; diverse civic, social and cultural opportunities; and a commitment to building an inclusive environment for all points of view. Northern also offers a broad-based athletics program, sponsoring 15 NCAA Division II intercollegiate varsity sports that compete in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (NSIC). The university strives to enrich the community through partnerships such as its Educational Impact Campaign, which opened a new South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired; new athletic and recreation fields; and, soon, an on-campus regional sports complex. With the $55 million campaign, NSU has been the recipient of more than $120 million in privately funded building projects and scholarships within a decade. To learn more, visit NSU Admissions.