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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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NMSU professor joins science and technology exchange team headed to China

Universities around the world, including those in New Mexico and China, struggle to find affordable yet effective ways to provide education to clientele living in remote rural areas. New Mexico State University's Jeanne Gleason and three other U.S. experts are in China to share their successes and explore future collaborative relationships with Chinese partners.

The four-member team of experts, with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the American Distance Education Consortium (ADEC), is visiting universities and organizations in Beijing, Shijiazhuang and Kunming, March 16-31.

Gleason, director of NMSU's Media Productions in the University Communications and Marketing Services department, was invited to join the scientific and technical exchange team because of her national leadership in media outreach programs and her experience with ongoing partnerships in China.

"China's rural areas are facing some of the same challenges as New Mexico's rural communities," Gleason said. "Our universities are constantly introducing new technologies and innovative programs to meet the educational and information needs of our rural clientele while helping them maintain what they value about their rural lifestyle."

Gleason has played a key role in NMSU's distance outreach programs since the early 1970s when she helped produce one of NMSU's first distance outreach graduate classes delivered on public television across the state. In the '80s she implemented a statewide video outreach and production program for NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service.

Gleason also produced NMSU's first touch-screen laser disc system and was the project manager for USDA and NMSU's first CD-ROM, among the nation's first random access databases providing vital agricultural, economic and consumer information to place-bound families in rural areas. In the '90s, Gleason produced a satellite- and Internet-delivered graduate class with professors Lowell Catlett and Cynda Clary, and initiated NMSU's first multimedia production studio creating animated, interactive and musical educational media.

Recently Gleason was instrumental in crafting partnerships with telecommunications providers in New Mexico's rural communities to provide low cost Internet connections to NMSU's Extension offices. She also forged a partnership with ADEC to provide NSF funding to install free satellite-based Internet systems for some of NMSU's most remote science centers and Extension offices.

The team of experts from universities in Nebraska, Minnesota, and Oregon, along with NMSU, will meet with leaders from China's agricultural and educational sectors to explore collaborative ways to expand distance learning and digital library partnerships between the U.S. and China.

"China is rapidly becoming an international force in the creation of digital libraries for use in distance education," Gleason said. "I have lived and worked in China frequently over the past 15 years and have been amazed to see China's rapid development of telecommunications for service into rural communities. This exchange is an excellent opportunity for both countries to develop better approaches to Internet distance education for rural areas."

Gleason lived in China on sabbatical ending in 2005 where she worked with Chinese rural educational programs. She played a key role in developing NMSU's partnership with two Chinese organizations providing extension and development outreach programs. One partnership led to USDA funding for NMSU to develop Chinese language food safety training for Chinese-speaking workers in the U.S. food-service industry.

Janet Poley, president of ADEC and team coordinator of this China trip, asked Gleason to join the team because of her extensive experience in Mexico, Central America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa and her long-term involvement in ADEC's program committee that coordinates innovative programs among ADEC's 60 state universities and land-grant colleges.