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Using Technology to Further Expand Access to Education for Urban and Rural Communities 

Making Central Oregon a better place to live; Bright ideas for a changing community

click to enlarge COURTESY COCC
  • Courtesy COCC
There's no doubt that COVID-19 has created innumerable challenges, especially in education. However, these struggles have also offered institutions like Central Oregon Community College opportunities to innovate and expand access to education. If you visit COCC's branch campuses in Redmond, Madras and Prineville, you'll see this pandemic-spurred transformation in action.

One of COCC's primary goals for our branch campuses over the past 18 months has been to increase access to higher education for both students and the community. With help from the COCC Foundation, state and federal relief funds, and local supporters like the Roundhouse Foundation, COCC's branch campuses have not only created access to learning during the pandemic, but have also carved out new and innovative ways to deliver courses long into the future. We now offer expanded wi-fi across our campuses, and lend free personal computers, tablets, hotspots and web cams to students who need them. COCC students are no longer confined to the use of on-campus computer labs and can access services and courses from wherever is most convenient. All four COCC campuses are equipped to livestream courses between campuses as well as directly to students' personal computers, regardless of their location. We're working hard to eliminate the need for Jefferson County, Crook County and even Redmond-area residents to commute to Bend in order to take specific courses required to complete their goals.

Barriers to higher education that once existed for many Central Oregonians due to unreliable internet connectivity, access to technologies, or impossible commutes for place-bound students are fading because of our collective response to the coronavirus. How might Central Oregon continue to move forward—using the technological advances we have all come to love and loath during the pandemic—to further expand access to education for our urban and rural communities?

—Jeremy Green is the director of the Redmond and Madras campuses of Central Oregon Community College.

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