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Rural Schools Tap Into Federal Distance-Learning Funds

Stories have been cropping up this past week about rural schools receiving federal money to improve their distance-learning offerings, and most of it's coming from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program.

Federal officials announced 100 distance learning and telemedicine grants last week that would go to 34 states and one territory to better those services.

The Cincinnati Enquirer ran a story about three rural districts in Northern Kentucky that received nearly $500,000 to create a collaborative distance-learning system, enabling them to share classes as one large virtual school and offer a wider array of courses.

The Bangor Daily News in Bangor, Maine reported its $3.4 million grant will touch all of the state's 16 counties. The money for schools will help pay for curricula on wind, solar energy, and "green" agriculture, and it will pay for adult learners to have statewide access to the Maine Adult Education Consortium, which offers classes to improve their skills and find better jobs.

In addition, five Alaska school districts will share part of $2.3 million to improve opportunities for Native-Alaskan students living in rural villages accessible only by boat or plane, according to the Alaska Dispatch in Anchorage, Alaska.

We just reported on how technology can be a game-changer for rural schools if they can overcome the challenges of implementing it, so this money surely is welcome news for many communities.

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