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Eight computers and accompanying software programs worth approximately $200,000 have been provided to Dixie College and the Washington County School District through an Employability Skills Grant from IBM Corp.

Rich VanAusdal, dean of business and technology at Dixie College, said the equipment will allow students to be guided through vocational curriculum on an open entry/open exit (self-paced) basis."All of the high schools of Washington and Kane County will be linked to the Dixie College computer to provide smooth tracking of student learning activities," he said.

Each student's educational occupational plan will be entered in the new Vocational and Technical School Series software.

The student, parent, teachers and counselors will use the computer to track the various training and skills each student obtains.

"It will be a sort of road map for the student to follow in both high school and post high school training," said Steve Peterson, superintendent of Washington County Schools. It will also be used to track apprenticeships and on-the-job-training work with employers.

The AS400 will be housed in the computer lab of the Val Browning Learning Resource Center on campus and will be used in conjunction with other business software development programs and partnerships.

Officials say the system will eventually make it possible for students to finish high school, and therefore college, at least a year earlier.