A new partnership is allowing students at Red Lake Nation College to take a BSU course at their home campus. As part of a pilot program this spring, six Red Lake Nation College students are using teleconferencing technology to join a Criminal Justice and Society course taught by Elizabeth Hagensen, assistant professor of criminal justice at BSU.
“We have had professors in the past who have done adjunct work at tribal colleges, but we have never actually offered a BSU class on a tribal college campus,” said Bill Blackwell, Jr., executive director of BSU’s American Indian Resource Center, in a release.
Blackwell said the BSU course closely mirrored a similar course offered at Red Lake, making it an ideal candidate for the pilot. The course meets twice weekly, on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Hagensen has been teaching the Tuesday session from Bemidji, then traveling and teaching the Thursday session from the Red Lake campus, located about 35 miles north of Bemidji.
Dan King, president of Red Lake Nation College, said the partnership has a lot of potential. “We have many students here in Red Lake who complete a two-year degree and then they don’t continue,” he said in a release. “The distance barrier is too big of a challenge — they’re working part-time or they have children, and there are too many barriers. This virtual presence opportunity removes the distance barrier for a lot of our students.”
The collaboration is made possible by a teleconferencing network that connects BSU with Red Lake Nation College as part of a consortium called “Azhoogan” – an Ojibwe word meaning “bridge” – which also includes Northwest Technical College, White Earth Tribal and Community College in Mahnomen and Leech Lake Tribal College in Cass Lake. The consortium began developing the network in 2014 using a $500,000 grant from U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program.