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Why Blended Learning Matters in Rural Communities

By: Keara Mascareñaz on June 15th, 2015

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Why Blended Learning Matters in Rural Communities

Personalized Learning  |  Blended Learning  |  School Districts  |  Innovative Leadership

Blended Learning in Rural Districts

 

In conversations about education, we often focus on the large, urban districts that we all hear and read about. We know New York City DOE, Los Angeles USD, Houston ISD, but we often forget about the specific needs of rural communities that make up 57% of our school districts nationwide and serve more than 49 million students. I grew up in rural Southern Oregon, started my career teaching in rural New Mexico, and constantly think about how we can better support our rural districts.

Each rural community has a unique set of strengths, challenges, and opportunities, but for many rural districts, technology is creating new possibilities for how teaching and learning can happen. The integration of technology can create access to resources and connections beyond a single zip code, valley, plain, or mountain. Tweet: The integration of technology can create access 2resources & connections beyond a single zip code, valley, or mountain http://bit.ly/1GC9NSZ The Ed Elements team is lucky to have had the chance to work with some amazing rural districts across the country to design and implement blended learning. Through their work we’ve realized that innovation, specifically blended learning, matters deeply in rural communities and has created profound changes for their students and teachers. Tweet: Innovation, specifically #blearning, matters deeply in rural communities & has created profound changes 4their Ss & Ts http://bit.ly/1GC9NSZ Here are just a few ways that blended learning matters in rural communities:

  1. With technology, learning can happen anywhere (even on long bus rides for football games and debate tournaments). Tweet: With technology, learning can happen anywhere (even on long bus rides 4 football games and debate tournaments) http://bit.ly/1GC9NSZ #edtech Alabama’s Piedmont City Schools has established city-wide wifi so students can access online learning resources anywhere in town. Coachella Valley Unified SD has put wifi on buses that travel to parking lots, trailer parks, and under-served communities throughout their area.

  2. Digital content can provide access to courses otherwise impossible to offer in small, rural districts. THE Journal reporter Andrea Beesley shares how rural schools are used to meeting the challenges of small staff and limited course offerings in innovative ways, including using technology to offer more advanced high school courses.

  3. Blended learning, with a focus on student ownership, can better prepare rural students for the changing future of college and work.Tweet: #Blendedlearning, w/ a focus on student ownership, can better prepare #rural Ss 4 the changing future of college&work http://bit.ly/1GC9NSZ Uinta County SD #1 Superintendent Dr. James Bailey shares why his rural district in Evanston, WY chose to pursue blended learning in order to better support their students to thrive in college and careers.

  4. Blended learning can help rural students connect to the world. Tweet: #Blendedlearning can help rural students connect to the world... http://bit.ly/1GC9NSZ #blearning #RuralEdChat #suptchat4th Grade Teacher Wendy Daniels used Google Docs to create virtual pen pals with a 5th grade classroom in Middletown, NY.

 

Want to learn more about how rural districts are using blended learning to support their students and teachers? Check out these resources for rural education leaders thinking about deepening their use of technology:

 

 

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About Keara Mascareñaz

Keara is a Managing Partner at Education Elements who focuses on how to build and scale a culture of innovation in large systems, how to create national communities of collaboration, and how to keep laughing when pursuing daunting, large-scale changes. She was lucky to collaborate with co-authors Alexis Gonzales-Black and Anthony Kim to design the website and toolkit for The NEW School Rules: 6 Practices for Responsive and Thriving Schools.

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