A Technology-Enabled Dual Enrollment Model for Diverse Students in Rural Areas

Concurrent Session 1

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

This presentation highlights a rural community college’s efforts to enable and expand dual enrollment for diverse high school students via distance learning technology. Challenges and solutions regarding IT management, class scheduling, learning design, and distance education pedagogy are identified. Preliminary findings from the early phase of implementation will be shared.


Full Time Mathematics Faculty Member at Northland Pioneer College (NPC), Chair of the Science and Mathematics Department, and Technology Trainer for Audio/Model/Video equipment.
Full time faculty at Northland Pioneer College in Educational Technology, Instruction Designer, and Technology Consultant.

Extended Abstract

Northland Pioneer College (NPC) is a public community college that serves over 12,000 students annually across Navajo and Apache counties in northeastern Arizona including the tribal homelands of the Navajo, Hopi, and Apache peoples. To provide accessible, high quality, student-centered education that meets the needs of its diverse students and communities, NPC uses a multimedia-rich distance learning network to reach its nine locations across two counties that encompass an area of 21,158 square miles.

NPC has been actively establishing and maintaining its relationship with local school districts by providing college credits to high school students via dual enrollment programs. Dual enrollment arrangements provide an alternative way for rural schools to expand their curricular offerings. Research indicates that dual enrollment programs are beneficial to    students, parents, high    schools, and postsecondary institutions (Johnson & Brophy, 2006). However, lack of high school teachers that are qualified for teaching dual-enrollment courses, and the “average daily membership (ADM)” by Arizona state law that mandates K-12 students’ daily attendance hours on their own campus, presented major challenges. Offering dual enrollment courses taught by college instructors via connected, synchronous distance technology appears to be an effective way to address these challenges.

Two Title III grants, EAGLE and TALON, played an important role in the development of the distance education infrastructure at NPC and made the distance learning technology-enabled dual enrollment program possible.

Equitable Access to Gainful Experiences (EAGLE) was a 5-year (2010-2015) project implemented to improve NPC’s distance learning environment. It faced many challenges including personnel changes in IT, unforeseen regulatory obstacles, cost, training, and faculty frustration. NPC identified these challenges and systematically approached them with a solution design in mind. Budget requests were filled for additional IT personnel, IT trainers and facilitators, and compensation for faculty mentors. NPC increased the speed of its Internet, replaced technological components, and implemented new software to bridge the video feed in the classroom which helped significantly with the infrastructure of the model classrooms. To combat faculty skepticism and frustration in this distance learning environment, NPC created a faculty-led Learning Technology Committee, implemented 4th Friday technology training sessions, offered Instructional Skills Workshops, conducted IS training sessions at division meetings, created on-demand training and consulting, and made online resources available to all faculty.

Upon conclusion of the EAGLE, Technology to Advance Learning Outcomes at Northland (TALON) was launched to develop distance technology-enabled dual enrollment partnerships with multiple local high schools. This new 5-year (2016-2021) project will likely see new challenges that call for a solution design as the implementation of the project expands the College’s distance learning environment to the high school level across an expansive territory.

While EAGLE provided a model for interactive, connected learning environment, TALON aims to scale that model up to include high schools in the network. Lessons learned and best practices developed from EAGLE will help inform the implementation of TALON. However, expanding the network into high schools will likely involve new and potentially more complicated challenges associated with infrastructure, scheduling, politics, instructional design, and extended IT support and training. TALON will expand NPC’s course delivery from the college to ten high schools initially and eventually up to twenty schools. New challenges that NPC will face are network connection over a vast territory, equipment delivery and maintenance, scheduling conflicts between schools, faculty and student readiness, local school monitoring of classrooms, and the delivery of training to diverse user groups.

Coordinating with each of the initial ten high schools will be an essential component for the TALON project to be successful. Developing the proper network is key to success. NPC is pursuing an aggressive and comprehensive solution to manage connectivity, security and control the issues that exist in the typical online environment. Creating a schedule that each high school agrees with will help in the initial implementation of the video connection classroom and organized delivery.  IT personnel at NPC will need to work with the local IT personnel at the high schools setting up model classrooms that will be conducive to student learning.  New NPC IT personnel as well as NPC faculty will need to be hired due to the expansion of the distance learning classrooms and course offerings. New IT monitoring rooms will need to be created at NPC in order to maintain the new model classrooms. Training sessions will need to be conducted between NPC faculty and lead faculty or classroom monitors at the high schools prior to instruction.  Once the project is underway, ongoing cost of maintaining the solution will need to be decided prior to the end of the Title III grant to maintain long term sustainability.

Implementation Timelines:

  • April/May - Hiring the grant director, AV tech, support tech

  • July 25th - Distance learning systems installed and tested at 4 NPC and 10 high school classrooms

  • August 15th to 19th - faculty and staff training

  • August 22nd - NPC-high school dual enrollment classes begin (Mat 152+, 189, 221, SPN 101, 102, ENL 101, 102, HIS courses)


Johnson, T. E., & Brophy, M. (2006). Dual enrollment: Measuring factors for rural high school student participation. Rural Educator, 28 (1), 25–32.