Friday, February 28, 2014

Rural schools overcome obstacles through edtech


With low funding, geographical isolation, and infrastructural challenges, rural schools have always had a harder time preparing students for the future than big city schools. However, now that the 21st Century increasingly relies on technology, rural schools have been able to use educational technologies to their advantage.

As many know, rural areas often struggle with finding the power and funds necessary for stable Internet connection and accessibility. Marble Falls Independent School District in Texas understands these problems: "We have the wireless capability, but when the wireless breaks down we have to have a network drop," said Peggy Little, principal at Falls Career High School. "While we have enough infrastructure to support the laptops, that doesn't account for Kindles, iPads, and smartphones." The district has taken the steps to address this problem, though; besides raising awareness about the need for technology funding, schools have also extended hours so students and even community members can spend more time using the Internet.

Petersburg School District in Alaska has also found success through using educational technologies. Besides having a strong and motivated faculty, the district also has an excellent technology program in which the student to technology ratio is one-to-one with all students having access to laptops during the school day. "IF we don't have it, and if it supports their learning, then it gets installed," said Jon Kludt-Painter, the district's director of instructional technology. Besides empowering students through educational technologies, the district also addresses infrastructural issues within the community. Like Marble Falls ISD, Petersburg School District allows students to use the school's Internet before, after, and during school hours, and there is a center open on weekends that offers Internet access. "[The] classroom really is a classroom without walls," Kludt-Painter said about online learning.

Interested in reading the full article? Check out "Two rural schools that are beating the odds" by Laura Devaney (eSchool News). How have you used technology to overcome infrastructural, financial, or geographical challenges? Let us know!