Although many rural areas face of dearth of broadband connectivity, online learning can be a boon for rural schools.
Tom Vander Ark, an Education Week opinion blogger, dedicated a post last week to online learning in rural areas, and he discusses three main trends in rural schools using that technology: one-to-one learning, blended learning, and what he calls "flex schools." Flex schools are a type of blended learning in which most instruction is provided online but students can receive face-to-face instruction on site.
He offers some great, specific examples of rural districts and states that are making online programs work and increasing students' learning opportunities.
Despite that potential, broadband access continues to be a significant problem for rural communities nationwide, and that's becoming a more serious issue as more "bandwith intensive material" such as educational videos, video conferencing, interactive learning tools moves online.
Vander Ark acknowledged that national problem and said states should support districts' efforts to provide Internet access and broadband coverage.