Online education has been around for years, though the infrastructure and acceptance of it have exploded in the past two to three years. While nearly everyone benefited from it during the government-mandated shutdowns, it has the potential to close the accessibility gap for certain populations. Most notably, it can aid rural students of all ages. Here are six reasons why remote learning could be a lifesaver for people living in rural communities:
Students in rural areas tend to live and work farther from higher education institutions than students in the cities or the suburbs. That explains why they have lower rates of university attendance. This in turn explains why they have fewer opportunities to advance their careers and earn more money.
Online learning allows many learning students to attend school without driving long hours every day or leaving home to go to college. Universities like Aston allow students to study MBA online without having to leave home. This can make a college degree much more affordable and thus more accessible. You’ll develop a skills portfolio that makes you a better performer at work and prepares you to take your career to the next level.
Rural schools generally have smaller course offerings because they tend to have fewer people, though this is proportional to their smaller student populations. This limits the ability of rural schools to offer specialised content.
Online classes allow students to access STEM classes, accelerated classes, and special interest courses. For example, online classes can be used to teach world languages not offered at the local school. It also allows them to offer Advanced Placement courses like physics and calculus.
One study found that rural schools were ten times less likely to offer advanced classes than urban schools. Furthermore, students could take advantage of online supplemental material and tutoring. This can improve their educational outcomes.
That is separate from the general schedule flexibility that comes with online classes. If you’re considering taking online college classes, you’ll find more time slots and multiple intakes per year. If you’re going to take pre-college classes online, you can find one that fits any opening in the class schedule and access the material after school.
The benefits of online classes and virtual learning reach into the classroom. For example, teachers can make use of virtual laboratories.
The virtual lab has several benefits. Students can access the virtual experiments on their own schedule. There is less work for the teacher supervising the lessons. The lessons are repeatable, and students may learn from their mistakes when they redo an experiment.
We’ve already mentioned that rural schools tend to be strapped for cash, and lab equipment is expensive. Virtual labs eliminate these expenses, and you don’t have to worry about kids missing out by using older equipment.
Another resource teachers can take advantage of is virtual field trips. Rural schools are by nature relatively isolated. This means it is much more difficult if not impossible to go to museums or the zoo. Virtual field trips allow students to experience these wonders without having to travel for hours to reach them. They might explore the rainforest or visit digitally with students from another culture.
Rural libraries tend to have less access to books. Their school library and their public library tend to have fewer options than suburban and urban libraries. They are also less likely to have the latest books because they have limited resources.
In many rural areas, the hours of operation are limited due to the small staff at the local library. That can make it hard for students to access the library or use the library’s facilities to access online content. Online courses allow students to access online content from digital textbooks to educational software directly.
Homeschooling is increasingly popular, but some critics say parents can’t do it all. This is where eLearning courses can fill in the gap.
In fact, there are full-time virtual schools that connect students to professional teachers, allowing them to attend school without leaving home. That is independent of blended learning courses and online courses that can help them learn more each week if their school has shifted to a 3 or 4 day a week schedule.
Another trait that seems to unite many rural communities is that they tend to be very tight-knit. As a result, many might feel reluctant to leave this comfortable environment. This leads a lot of people from these communities to never learning about the world outside of their town, either out of fear or not wanting to get out of their comfort zone.
However, online classes could allow students from isolated areas to form a sense of community with people from the other side of the country or the world. It will open them up to a world of possibilities and allow them to learn and connect with others in a completely safe environment.
This is also true in business programs that demand a lot of cooperation and teamwork, such as the MBA, for instance. While traditional MBAs favour direct contact, online MBAs allow for students that might be a bit more reserved to get more involved in discussions. These classes also tend to attract many students from other countries and fields of activity, which provides a true sense of diversity. This allows students from areas where there might be less diversity to get introduced to other cultures in an environment that makes it easy and more comfortable for them.
Remote learning has many benefits for students, whether they’re in high school or at university. Studying online can close the education gap for many rural students, resulting in more of them graduating and pursuing higher education – this could be a lifesaver in a post-Covid world.