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HJC one of five virtual sites nationwide

November 06, 1997

HJC one of five virtual sites nationwide

By DAVE McMILLION

Staff Writer

The days when college courses were drawn solely from textbooks are fading at Hagerstown Junior College as the school moves into the virtual age.

With the help of a computer, students can join the ranks of a high-tech corporation, help the company with market research and build profits without leaving the classroom.

The fictitious EV Motors company at Hagerstown Junior College is one of five such virtual sites at community colleges across the country. The sites are designed to provide students with the situations similar to those they will find on the job, officials said.

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Through the CD-ROM program, students click their way through the halls of aerospace and manufacturing firms to conduct research and collaborate with company workers on ways to expand facilities and find effective software.

At the EV Motors site, students join a company that manufactures electric cars. A company official appears on the screen and presents students with a challenge, which includes deciding whether to spend more on research and development to make the car go farther between charges.

Students then face a board room full of executives who can help them make their decisions.

"It simulates as close as we can get to a real life situation," said HJC instructor Michael Harsh, who helped develop the SCANS 2000 project.

HJC was chosen for the project by officials at Johns Hopkins University. Johns Hopkins began devising the concept as part of a 1992 federal Department of Labor study to determine what kind of skills students need in order to excel in the high-tech age, HJC officials said.

The five community colleges were charged with developing their own CD-ROM courses. The other four schools involved in the project are Modesto Junior College in Modesto, Calif, New Hampshire Community Technical College System near Berlin, N.H., Northern Essex Community College in Massachusetts and South Seattle Community College near Seattle, Wash.

The schools were selected because all have high-tech centers.

Math instructor Robert Carson began developing the HJC program two years ago and it is in use in some classrooms, officials said.

The project is funded through a $1.3 million grant from the National Science Foundation, and officials hope it will be available to schools across the country if funding continues.

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