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Local Students Log On to Columbia Online Resources
Larry Dais of CU Community Affairs joins Vivian Ducat and G. Todd Hardy of DKV and ninth-grade students Venece Moore, left, and Kadeem Muhammad.

As the use of new media tools such as online courses and interactive seminars continues to expand in secondary and higher education, access to these resources has become increasingly important to the modern student. In the latest collaboration between Columbia and neighboring schools, a dozen computers and hundreds of Columbia University lectures, e-seminars, symposia and archives now fill the distance-learning center at the newly re-opened Thurgood Marshall Academy for Learning and Social Change.

The exchange of technology and information is particularly germane at this point in the school's history. The first school to be built in Harlem in 50 years, Thurgood Marshall serves 500 seventh- through 12 th-graders and was located on the corner of 135 St. and St. Nicholas Avenue until relocating to their new facility on 135 St. and Adam Clayton Powell Avenue last year. The new building -- co-sponsored by the Abyssinian Development Corp., the CEO and president of which is Sheena Wright, CC'91, Law'94 -- is the fourth location for the school and is also part of the revitalization of Harlem.

The Columbia Office of Community Affairs helped facilitate the hardware and software donation by Digital Knowledge Ventures (DKV), a service whose primary mission is to use digital media to support University interests in reaching key external audiences, such as scholars at other institutions, alumni and surrounding communities.

"More important to the students than the actual computers is the access to the vast online resources, particularly the educational Web sites developed by DKV," said Larry Dais, assistant vice president of community affairs. "Together with our partner organizations, we have placed the resources of the world's leading urban university at the fingertips of these students, as well as their parents and the community at large."

From left: G. Todd Hardy, Vivian Ducat, Larry Dais, Kadeem Muhammad, Venece Moore, Angelica Johnson, Quitorah McKenzie, Sandye Johnson and Janice Holt, parent coordinator.

Thanks to password-enabling, students can access a wealth of sites: Columbia Educational Resources Online (CERO), a collection of e-seminars; Columbia Earthscape, a clearinghouse of information on Earth and environmental sciences; the National Science Digital Library; Columbia International Affairs Online (CIAO), a comprehensive source for theory, research and teaching resources in international affairs; and Columbia American History Online, a collection of video lectures, timelines, maps, original documents and other classroom material.

"It's a tremendous partnership," said Thurgood Marshall Principal Sandye Johnson, who received a doctorate from Teachers College in 1993. "This connectivity with the University gives us a virtual teaching staff. With access to Columbia's e-learning assets, our distance-learning center has grown exponentially. Our students are ready to teleconference with students all over the world—and indeed we hope to begin working with a class in [the Brazilian state of] Salvador de Bahia on exchanging tourism information between Harlem and Brazil."

"In addition to providing passwords for access to these Columbia Web sites, we have bookmarked several sites that have content that is accessible to high school students, such as the architecture and development of New York City, and a Web site on Harlem history created with materials from Columbia's libraries," said Vivian Ducat, senior director and executive editor of DKV. "The students also will now have access to materials that they can use to explore their own worlds, such as a fairly straightforward online seminar about how to do an oral history."

"The relationship is helpful for us at DKV, as well, because we can never have enough contact with the users of our digital materials," said Ducat. "The feedback from the students at Thurgood Marshall will help us in our future design of digital materials.

"We have the privilege of offering access to an unequaled collection of electronic learning resources," said G. Todd Hardy, executive director of DKV. "We're thrilled to be able to help serve the needs of the distance-learning center at Thurgood Marshall Academy."

Published: Jan 24, 2005
Last modified: Jan 21, 2005

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