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Area schools get ACCESS to program

A statewide program expansion announced yesterday by Gov. Bob Riley will bring ACCESS Distance Learning to four local schools a year earlier than anticipated.

Demopolis, Sweet Water, A.L. Johnson and John Essex high schools are on tap for the first phase of expansion, which is set to begin immediately and should be complete by Christmas break.

Currently in Alabama, 181 schools already have full ACCESS grants or labs paid for by other funds. All 371 high schools will start school in August 2009 with the most up-to-date, technology-rich, learning capabilities available anywhere.

The City School System currently offers a Spanish class via ACCESS at the Middle School. Vickers said he was hopeful to add similar capabilities at the high school in August.

The ACCESS initiative, once complete, will put Alabama at the forefront of the nation&8217;s educational model.

ACCESS (Alabama Connecting Classrooms, Educators, and Students Statewide) uses online and interactive video conferencing technology to link classrooms and offer coursework, including Advanced Placement and languages, to students in schools where those courses may not be available. ACCESS allows students from any part of the state to learn in a virtual classroom environment.

In addition to having ACCESS labs, the Alabama Supercomputer Authority, with funding from ACCESS, is providing every high school with a minimum of 10Mb of bandwidth to ensure that, no matter where any Alabama school is located, Internet connectivity will not be a barrier.