[Editor's Note: Because several sessions took place the first and second days of the meeting, this will be a multi-part series of articles.]

By Mary Alice Murphy

The second presentation of the Interim Legislative Science, Technology and Telecommunications Committee featured four presenters from Western New Mexico University on the topic of Challenges of Remote Education.

The four presenters were Jason Collet, director of information technology; Donna Rees, extended university director; Dean Foster, director of online learning; and April Hanson, manager of the office of IT video communications.

Collet started off his presentation by saying: "Without proper infrastructure, data cannot be delivered. Cyberinfrastructure is paramount for effective and affordable bandwidth. For higher education, cyberinfrastructure limits not only what the institution may deliver, but also what the student may receive."

He compared New Mexico to countries of the world and states of the union. Hong Kong leads the world in peak bandwidth utilization, at 87.7 Mbps (megabits per second). Virginia leads in the U.S., with 73.5 Mbps, followed by Utah with 60.2 Mbps, Arizona at 46.1 Mbps, then New Mexico at 35.5 Mbps. Following New Mexico is Iraq at 34.2 Mbps.

"We are at half of what Virginia has," Collet pointed out.

New Mexico has the Rio Grande Optical Network that runs between the research institutions, University New Mexico, New Mexico State University and New Mexico Tech. An evolved loop that combines elements of Cogent and Plateau ISP resources creates a fiber loop in the eastern part of the state. From these two major hubs, New Mexico Highlands University, Northern New Mexico and Eastern New Mexico University gain access to 1 Gb or higher speeds. A sizeable portion of the state—the western part—is in need of strategy and development.

"We have bandwidth deserts in the state, especially in the western part of the state," Collet said. "Broadband is an ever growing standard, but I get only 12 Mbps to my house. The vast majority of the state is a broadband bandwidth desert, with no access."

Collet said the expectation of WiFi acces is important to where one goes. It's important to have a restroom, running water and WiFi.

"Access means viable speeds," he continued. "At Western, we used to throttle down videos to allow access to everyone. Higher education needs evolved from a need to access web pages to a need for videos, applications, servers, data centers, internet appliances and security systems, and the cloud."

He said no providers in Grant County can deliver more than 1 Gb to a site, although WNM Communications can offer up to 1 Gb. For residential uses, the only true broadband is available over cable. As for costs, WNMU pays $4.50 per Mb of commodity, whereas UNM pays less than $1 per MB. Residents pay more for less."

Collet said WNMU receives its bandwidth from a single source provider. "Grant County may have multiple ISPs, but the transport of the bandwidth all relies on CenturyLink fiber. We have the necessity of redundancy."

Rees said until recently, WNMU had four distance learning centers, but not enough students were going to the centers, but choosing to take their classes online, so "we closed three of them. We reached out to students to make sure they could get the courses they needed for graduation. I know of one student who lives in Glenwood and has to drive to his mother-in-law's in Silver City to have enough bandwidth to finish his degree. As of this morning, only 35 percent of the classes in Silver City are face-to-face. Last spring it was 40 percent. We have a few face-to-face classes in Deming."

In 1993, the extended university began video conferencing to the Deming Learning Center. "Now students can access the classes anywhere they have internet access. Sixty-five percent of our enrollment is online."

Foster said the challenge is delivering online classes to students in New Mexico. "Six hundred fourteen of our online students are in New Mexico, but we have to be realistic about what we can deliver."

Hanson said she in in charge of video conferencing. "This is not only synchronous videoing, but we record so students can watch later. A lot of our time online is the synchronous element. Video requires access that many students don't have."

Rees expanded on the earlier comment about training faculty members in the pedagogy of online classes. "Our first attempt was with a large group. That didn't work. We've redesigned the training to on-demand, so that faculty members can get help when they need it."

The next article will cover Grant County Collaboration: Building Interconnectivity.

Click to search the Beat Click to search the Beat

Get Updates Three Times a Week

Welcome to the Update! You will receive emails 3 times a week with links to recently posted articles.


You can unsubscribe anytime. We never share or rent your email to anyone.

Submitting to the Beat

Those new to providing news releases to the Beat are asked to please check out submission guidelines at https://www.grantcountybeat.com/about/submissions. They are for your information to make life easier on the readers, as well as for the editor.

Advertising: Don't forget to tell advertisers that you saw their ads on the Beat.

Classifieds: We have changed Classifieds to a cheaper and shorter option. Check periodically to see if any new ones have popped up. The former software failed us, so it's just a category now, with prices posted. Send your information to editor@grantcountybeat.com and we will post it as soon as we can. Instructions and prices are on the page.

Editor's Notes

Here for YOU: Consider the Beat your DAILY newspaper for up-to-date information about Grant County. It's at your fingertips! One Click to Local News. Thanks for your support for and your readership of Grant County's online news source—www.grantcountybeat.com

Feel free to notify editor@grantcountybeat.com if you notice any technical problems on the site. Your convenience is my desire for the Beat.  The Beat totally appreciates its readers and subscribers!  

Compliance: Because you are an esteemed member of The Grant County Beat readership, be assured that we at the Beat continue to do everything we can to be in full compliance with GDPR and pertinent US law, so that the information you have chosen to give to us cannot be compromised. 

Content on the Beat

WARNING: All articles and photos with a byline or photo credit are copyrighted to the author or photographer. You may not use any information found within the articles without asking permission AND giving attribution to the source. Photos can be requested and may incur a nominal fee for use personally or commercially.

Disclaimer: If you find errors in articles not written by the Beat team but sent to us from other content providers, please contact the writer, not the Beat. For example, obituaries are always provided by the funeral home or a family member. We can fix errors, but please give details on where the error is so we can find it. News releases from government and non-profit entities are posted generally without change, except for legal notices, which incur a small charge.

NOTE: If an article does not have a byline, it was written by someone not affiliated with the Beat and then sent to the Beat for posting.

Images: We have received complaints about large images blocking parts of other articles. If you encounter this problem, click on the title of the article you want to read and it will take you to that article's page, which shows only that article without any intruders. 

New Columnists: The Beat continues to bring you new columnists. And check out the old faithfuls who continue to provide content.

  • The Beat has a column for you gardeners out there. The Grant County Extension Service will bring you monthly columns on gardening issues.

Newsletter: If you opt in to the Join GCB Three Times Weekly Updates option at the top of this page, you will be subscribed to email notifications with links to recently posted articles.

Go to Top