Rural schools and the digital divide

21 Jun

In Rural schools, moi said:

A significant number of children attend rural schools. According to The Rural Assistance Center, the definition of a rural school is:

Question: What is the definition of a rural and/or small school?

Answer: According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the definition of rural schools was revised in 2006 after working with the Census Bureau to create a new locale classification system to capitalize on improved geocoding technology and the 2000 Office of Management and Budget definitions of metro areas that rely less on population size and county boundaries than proximity of an address to an urbanized area. Small schools do not necessarily mean rural, and rural does not mean small. A small school could be an urban school with a decreasing population. Rural schools can be large due to the center school concept where students are bused in to one school to save on costs. Some schools are considered small when compared to the mega-schools of several thousand that are common in some districts. A small school could be one designed to accommodate a specific population of students and their unique needs or a private school. Rural and/or small schools have similar needs and concerns.

According to The Condition of Education in Rural Schools (U.S. Department of Education, 1994), ‘few issues bedevil analysts and planners concerned with rural education more than the question of what actually constitutes “rural”.’ In the Federal Register published December 27, 2000, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced the Standards for Defining Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas. These new standards replace and supersede the 1990 standards for defining Metropolitan Areas. OMB announced definitions of areas based on the new standards and Census 2000 data in June 2003. The lack of a clear, accepted definition of “rural” has impeded research in the field of rural education. When defining the term rural, population and remoteness are important considerations as these factors influence school organization, availability of resources, and economic and social conditions.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the definition of “small rural schools” are those schools eligible to participate in the Small Rural School Achievement (SRSA) program. SRSA includes districts with average daily attendance of fewer than 600 students, or districts in which all schools are located in counties with a population density of fewer than 10 persons per square mile, AND all schools served by the districts are located in a rural area with a school locale code of 7 or 8.

Rural schools face unique challenges.                                           

Sarah Butrymowicz  of the Hechinger Report writes about the digital divide, one of the challenges faced by rural schools.

In Rural Schools In America Fight To Bridge Digital Divide, Butrymowicz writes in the Huffington Post:

Rural schools have long been leaders in distance-learning and online education—to offer a full slate of courses to their students, they’ve had to be. In fact, Edison has a fully online school that enrolls about 100 other students in the district. But when it comes to technology inside traditional classrooms, the small sizes—and budgets—of rural schools present unique hurdles.

Some states, fearing a divide between rural and urban communities, have developed statewide initiatives to provide technology to rural schools. Maine, for instance, gives every student a laptop, and Alabama requires all school districts to offer Advanced Placement courses through distance-learning technology, where students video-conference with teachers.

But in many places, the onus is on the already-strained staff of the schools to acquire and then use things like computers and iPads, leading to pockets of innovation, like that in Edison. Although it leaves a line in its budget for technology upkeep, Edison has supplemented its tech experimentation with a $10,000 grant from the Denver-based Morgridge Family Foundation.

For schools facing shrinking budgets and consolidation, technology could be rural schools’ saving grace, said Bob Wise, a former governor of West Virginia who now serves as president of the Alliance for Excellent Education, a national advocacy organization in Washington, D.C., that has studied the challenges facing rural schools. “We’re encouraging every district to develop a systematic strategy for employing technology,” he said. “My guess is you will see a number of rural schools actually saved and renewed as learning centers.”

Rural America lags behind the rest of the country in Internet usage, making rural schools an important center of connectivity in the communities. In 2010, for instance, 57 percent of rural households had broadband Internet access, compared to 72 percent in urban areas, according to a November 2011 report by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The Rural Assistance Center has some great information about technology in rural areas.

In Technology Frequently Asked Questions, The Rural Assistance Center discusses technology issues:

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: What are current issues related to technology in rural communities?

Answer: Lack of access to high-speed Internet connections presents a challenge to the economic development of rural communities. It also hinders the provision of enhanced educational content for K-12 education and adult learning. In addition, although many rural residents have Internet access at work, at school, via public libraries or community centers, home access is still somewhat limited. Cost is the primary reason for slower deployment. Internet providers, cable television companies and access providers may hesitate to expand costly infrastructure and operations in sparsely populated areas because lower population density results in less usage and lowered profits. In addition, fewer rural residents may be able to afford the cost of owning and using personal computers, and as young people migrate out of rural communities, an additional challenge facing rural providers is engaging older residents.

While Internet technology can be accessed anywhere there are phone lines, the cost of doing so for many rural residents may be unaffordable. A lack of competition among providers in rural communities may keep access costs high. Higher fees result from long-distance rates charged by phone companies serving rural areas.

Degree of access is also an important issue in rural communities. The quality of local phone lines, availability of alternative media such as wireless devices, and the level of high-speed broadband technology each influences Internet access. Furthermore, slower investment of local banks and other economic development groups poses a challenge. Broadband provides users with instant access, and enables them to download and upload information and software at a much faster speed. It also allows people to make telephone calls while online, eliminating the need for a second phone line. While some state departments of economic development are effectively addressing this issue, others have yet to do so.

All children have a right to a good basic education


Schools Must Bridge the Digital Divide                                

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©


7 Responses to “Rural schools and the digital divide”


  1. Gifted students in rural areas « drwilda - August 5, 2012

    […] Rural schools and the digital divide             […]

  2. STEM education in rural schools « drwilda - October 9, 2012

    […] In Technology Frequently Asked Questions, The Rural Assistance Center discusses technology issues. […]

  3. Translating digital learning into K-12 education « drwilda - November 18, 2012

    […] All children have a right to a good basic education. See, Rural schools and the digital divide […]

  4. The digital divide affects the college application process « drwilda - December 8, 2012

    […] Rural schools and the digital divide                              […]

  5. drwilda - December 12, 2012

    […] Rural schools and the digital divide                                   […]

  6. The struggle to educate students in rural America | drwilda - July 6, 2013

    […] children have a right to a good basic education Related: Rural schools and the digital divide Gifted students in rural areas STEM […]

  7. NEA policy statement on blended digital learning | drwilda - July 27, 2013

    […] […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: