Friday, March 16, 2012

Online Learning in Rural Schools

Hi Class,

               I read about the use of online courses in rural areas in the article, "Rural Districts Bolster Choices with Online Learning," by Don W. Brown.  This article discussed how rural areas are incorporating online courses into their schools to benefit students.  Brown details 4 different districts and their experience with online course integration.  These districts all varied in the number of students, from about 280 up to 1300.  
The online courses do provide challenges for some students.  Sue Bowers, who is in charge of monitoring students, noted: "The scheduling piece is most difficult for the students. If the course does not generate a pacing chart, be sure to have them build one with due dates for assignments and tests. I review the pacing charts with every student individually each Friday...Without consistent support, students may fall so far behind, they give up" (Brown, 2012). Knowing this is an issue helps the districts deal with the problems ahead of time by helping the kids stay on track.  
Although challenges come along with utilizing online courses at schools, the advantages appear to outweigh the speed bumps.  One student mentioned that he could not get into a 4-year University without an extra year of Spanish classes, which was not offered by his school.  . He was able to take the course for credit online so that he could apply to the Universities he wanted.  In rural areas with smaller staffs, not all the courses that students need or want are available.  Providing online opportunities gives students these benefits. These courses are also used for credit recovery to help students graduate on time. 
Schools with limited resources are finding ways to improve opportunities for students with technology.  Integrating the choice of using online courses to complete credits or get ahead is a great way for students to get more out of their education.  Many rural schools are finding ways to help students with these choices.  Although there are some roadblocks, the districts are catching the problems and working to keep students on track.  I think that this is going to start catching on much more across the nation, and I am excited to see the opportunities grow. 

Thanks for reading!  

Kimberly Taron

Reference: Brown, D. W. (2012). Rural districts bolster choices with online learning . Learning and Leading with Technology, 39(6), Retrieved from

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