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Focus on Rural Schools Offers Opportunity for Telepresence Intervention

October 28, 2011
at 7:26 am PST

Rural schools have recently captured the attention of the federal government, which has redoubled its efforts to improve education in these areas, according to a blog post on the Education Week website. Making up more than half of the nation’s school districts, rural schools educate 23 percent of the country’s children, the post said.

The schools in many rural areas face significant challenges. At the Department of Education’s Rural and Indian Education Roundtable, held August 26 in South Dakota, teachers, education leaders, and families discussed the obstacles to quality education posed by extreme poverty, unemployment, cultural change, and difficulty recruiting and retaining quality teachers, according to the Ed.gov blog.

Though combating economic hardship requires a complex set of solutions, we know the only way to give the younger generation a chance at overcoming the hardships they face is to provide them with the education opportunities they need to gain access to college and vocational schools. On the education front, telepresence can make a huge difference. If education leader -- nationally and lcoally -- were to invest in telepresence technology for these rural districts, it could connect these students to people and places they would otherwise likely never reach.

I’ve shared before the examples of the Australian students on Mars and the Minnesota school children traveling back to pioneer days, but I’ll share them again-- they illustrate the potential for telepresence to expose rural students to absolutely anything they want to learn. With telepresence, students could take courses their schools can’t provide, speak with professional mentors in faraway cities and towns, or converse across state lines with each other to share experiences and knowledge.

Telepresence can bring the world to learners everywhere, and it seems students in rural areas that struggle for resources could especially benefit. What do you think? Would telepresence and other collaborative technologies make a valuable contribution to rural schools?

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