Technology in remote classrooms: Luxury or necessity?

 //  Mar 19, 2014

Technology in remote classrooms: Luxury or necessity?

Can technology become a “great equalizer” for schools? For those with access to the tools, tech opens doors to a mind-boggling amount of resources with just a click of a mouse or a swipe of a finger.

A recent article in Education Week reminded me just how technology can help level the playing field for students who live in the most remote areas of the country. Lower Kuskokwim School District in Alaska, which is home to 4,000 students, is inaccessible to visitors unless they take a plane or wait for the river to freeze. Yet, even in isolation, Lower Kuskokwim students are still receiving a quality education thanks to the power of technology.

Mr. Dan Walker, Assistant Superintendent of Lower Kuskokwim School District, has implemented “distance learning” classes, which use video conferencing tools to connect students with educators in other areas. The district, which is made up of 27 schools, has access to 60 cameras for video conference classes and some schools are now equipped with 1-to-1 laptop or tablet programs. Through video conferencing, students not only attend their core classes, but also have elective options such as digital photography, e-journalism and robotics.

Although many schools consider technology a luxury, for the community of Lower Kuskokwim School District, it’s a necessity. What do you think about classrooms in remote locations using technology to connect? Is it a luxury? A necessity? Something in between? We’d love to hear your thoughts!