National education article features comments by Southeast faculty
The highly-acclaimed publication for educators, ‘Chronicle of Higher Education’, in a recent issue relied on comments and observations of Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College faculty members Dr. Roy Silver and Theresa Osborne regarding the issue of the lack of Internet access for students living in rural areas of the country. The piece, written by staff writer Sara Grossman, focused on the problem of poor Internet service and how it can hinder the success of many students. She noted that in this day of high-speed Internet access and how it is so fundamentally linked to those seeking a college education, many living in remote areas are often hindered in their pursuit of a college degree. The article made mention that some 19 million Americans lack access to high-speed Internet service, with a significant access gap between residents of urban and rural areas. A report by the Federal Communications Commission shows that while only 1.8 percent of urban residents lacked access to broadband, nearly 24 percent of rural Americans live where high-speed access is unavailable. “In an era when education increasingly takes place online, broadband Internet access is a basic necessity for students,” says Tom Koutsky, chief policy council at Connected Nation, a nonprofit organization that works to expand such access in the United States. “Students today are minimally expected to perform research and submit assignments online, and they need reliable , fast Internet access to do so,” he said. Dr. Silver and Ms. Osborne, longtime educators at SKCTC, made their comments for the article from first-hand experiences dealing with local students who either have poor or no access to the Internet. Both know all too well how a lack of Internet access can get in the way of learning for their students. In the article in the Chronicle, Silver said many of his sociology students don’t have access to the Web. He estimates that about 20 percent use dial-up connections, while another 20 percent don’t have connections at all. With few coffee shops or local restaurants that offer free Internet access, he says, many of his students show up early or stay late on campus to use the computing services provided by Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College. He recalled a student who had to take courses online to complete her degree. She would start to download her assignment on her home computer, leave to do laundry, and then come back to see whether the download was complete. “If you don’t have a high-speed connection, Silver says, “the World Wide Web is turned into the world-wide wait.” Ms. Osborne, an instructor of Appalachian and folk studies at Southeast, has taught students who come to class largely unfamiliar with the Internet. She regularly meets with students individually to show them how to log into Blackboard, the college’s learning-management system, or use the library’s search engine. She estimates that about 10 to 25 percent of her students lack Internet at home. The federal government recognizes the economic importance of getting more Americans online. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 included $250-million for increasing broadband use among Americans who have not yet adopted the technology. The FCC has also made moves to expand broadband in rural areas. Two years ago, the FCC announced its Connect America Fund, aimed at making sure all households have access to a basic level of broadband service. The $4.5-billion fund has so far invested $115-million to bring service to nearly 400,000 Americans and another $300-million for mobile broadband on rural roads that are now unserved.
NEW HIGHER GROUND PRODUCTION CAPS A YEAR OF FORWARD-LOOKING ART IN HARLAN COUNTY
CONTACT: Robert Gipe, Appalachian Program Director, Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College. firstname.lastname@example.org (606) 589-3130
Higher Ground 4: Foglights, a new dramatic musical exploring the foggy future of the east Kentucky coalfields, opens Saturday September 21st at the Eastern Kentucky Social Club in Lynch, Kentucky. Foglights will then tour Harlan County in September and October, with shows at the Pine Mountain Settlement School, the old Evarts High School, and Harlan Elementary School.
The new play, presented by the Appalachian Program at Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College (SKCTC), is part of a larger community effort to use the arts to build community and revitalize the county. It is the result of a two-year collaboration between students in Appalachian Studies, music, drama, and art classes at the college, and a coalition of community members and visiting artists. Over sixty community residents have been working with Director Richard Geer of Community Performance International (CPI) and SKCTC Professor of Music Ann Schertz to produce Foglights.
The production will include stories told by local actors, songs written and performed by local musicians, murals and sculptural reliefs created by local artists, and is supported by Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College and grants from the Appalachian Regional Commission, ArtPlace America, and the Robert E. Frazier Foundation.
The script for Foglights, which was written by Higher Ground cast members and area high school and community college students with support from CPI, mixes stories from Harlan County’s dramatic history with scenes exploring the fault lines and bridges between the generations in contemporary Harlan County. The musicians and storytellers in Foglights dramatize the pressures and joys of living in today’s coalfields.
The Eastern Kentucky Social Club, the site of Foglights opening night, is an African-American organization with chapters across the United States. From its headquarters in Lynch, the EKSC helps black families with Harlan County roots stay connected with each other and the homeplace. Pine Mountain Settlement School, the second Foglights venue, is an environmental education and community center on the north side of Pine Mountain, celebrating its centennial in 2013. The third venue, the old Evarts High School is the headquarters for the community group working to create a new resource center in the heart of expanding adventure tourism in the county. The closing venue, Harlan Elementary School, located downtown in the county seat, brings Higher Ground to the city of Harlan for the first time.
The production of Foglights has involved not only the participating venues, the college’s Appalachian Archives, and the arts and humanities division at the college, but also the carpentry, welding, electronics, maintenance programs at SKCTC, and the Appalachian Challenge Academy.
The eight performances will be the culminating event of two years of intense activity in the arts coordinated by the Appalachian Program at SKCTC. In that time, the college has offered new summer courses in art and drama in a building purchased in downtown Cumberland; a new organization has formed in Harlan to explore the possibility of expanded arts education taking place in downtown Harlan in the summer of 2014; plans have been made for an expansion of arts education in the Tri-Cities in the summer of 2014; the college has collaborated with the College of Design at the University of Kentucky, Lincoln Memorial University, filmmaker Tom Hansell, and the Department of Art and Appalachian Studies at the University of North Georgia on residencies to expand opportunities for the region’s creative development.
Foglights is the fourth play created by the Higher Ground coalition since the project’s beginnings in 2003. Past plays Higher Ground, Playing With Fire, and Talking Dirt have dealt with drug abuse, outmigration, land use, community diversity, and mining life in Harlan County. All the Higher Ground plays celebrate the strength of Harlan County and its people, showcase the talent resident in the community, focus on community assets, and strive to create discussion among community members about the issues before us. Higher Ground is the 2013 winner of the East Kentucky Leadership Foundation’s award for achievement in Culture and the Arts.
Performance location and dates for Higher Ground 4: Foglights are as follows:
Eastern Kentucky Social Club: 278 West Main Street, Lynch, Kentucky
Saturday, September 21st, 7PM
Sunday, September 22nd, 3PM
Pine Mountain Settlement School: 36 Highway 510, Bledsoe, Kentucky
Saturday, September 28th, 4PM
Sunday, September 29th, 4PM
NOTE: THE PINE MOUNTAIN SHOWS ARE OUTDOORS.
The old Evarts High School: 138 Yocum Street Evarts, Kentucky
Saturday, October 12th, 7PM
Sunday, October 13th, 3PM
Harlan Elementary School 420 East Central Street, Harlan Kentucky
Saturday, October 19th, 7PM
Sunday, October 20th, 3PM
All tickets are $4. Reservations can be made by contacting Mary Jo Brashears at (606) 589-3148 or email@example.com.
For more information, contact Robert Gipe, SKCTC Appalachian Program Director at (606) 589-3130 or firstname.lastname@example.org.