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On October 1, 2009 the ERVING Network was pleased to accept over $384,000 in a federal USDA Rural Utilities Service grant to upgrade the distance learning capabilities for its member schools. The Embarrass River Valley Instructional Network Group (ERVING) consists of the school districts of Bonduel, Bowler, Clintonville, Gresham, Marion, Menominee Indian, Rosholt, Tigerton, and Wittenberg-Birnamwood. As Wisconsin’s first distance learning network, ERVING’s mission has been to provide unique educational opportunities, using telecommunications and technology, that otherwise may not be available to students. Since 1992, ERVING has been able to broadcast classes such as Advanced Placement, higher education youth options, and a wide variety of elective courses. In addition, local educational staff and community members have taken advantage of ERVING’s opportunities.

“The mission of the grant was two-fold, to upgrade the aging equipment in our ERVING classrooms and to provide distance learning equipment to students and staff at the elementary and middle school level,” notes ERVING Director Jamie Lane. While the classrooms are being utilized for the majority of the school day, there are a lot of opportunities that elementary and middle school students are able to take advantage of. By implementing portable mulitmedia carts, staff can bring the distance learning capabilities right into their classroom without traveling to their high school. “This type of technology opens the door for a variety of virtual fieldtrips to providers around the world, or even intra and inter-district collaboration,” adds Lane. “The uses are endless.”  

Work on the project began in April 2010 with the implementation of the multimedia carts into the districts. The carts, custom designed for the ERVING schools to allow for maximum flexibility and ease of use, are located at elementary and middle school buildings in the ERVING districts. In June 2010, work began on the distance learning classrooms. Each room took approximately 10 days to complete. The antiquated equipment was removed and replaced with state of the art high definition equipment. While the state BadgerNet network has not yet made the transition to high definition broadcast, the ERVING schools are equipped to be the first to broadcast when Wisconsin upgrades its infrastructure in the anticipated near future. “This grant came at a very good time for our schools,” adds Lane. “The classroom equipment was very old and beginning to fail. Many of the pieces are no longer manufactured so it was leaving us in a vulnerable position. This upgrade would not have been possible without the assistance from the Rural Utilities Service grant. “  

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105 School Street, Marion, WI 54950 * (715) 754-5837
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Embarrass River Valley Instructional Network Group