Importance Of Educational Technology In Rural Schools BY DEBORAH EFFIONG
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Importance Of Educational Technology In Rural Schools BY DEBORAH EFFIONG

Educational Technology often referred to as Edutech is the field of study that looks into the process of analyzing, designing, developing, implementing, and evaluating the instructional environment, learning materials, learners, and the learning process in order to improve teaching and learning both in urban and rural areas.

Edutech helps today’s teachers to integrate new technologies and tools into their classrooms and pedagogies. Teachers are able to upgrade and improve the learner-centeredness of their classrooms as it enables teachers to engage their students in unique, innovative, and equitable ways.

This, however, is faced with challenges, especially in the rural areas. Rural schools have a number of advantages, including smaller class sizes and greater community involvement but however, they have also had more financial and logistical challenges than urban schools. They simply lack the resources to offer the full array of opportunities afforded to larger schools.

Funding is equally a challenge to educational technology in rural areas as schools often spend their budgets on transportation. Students travel longer distances than their urban counterparts to get to school. There’s less money to fund school technology initiatives when compared to urban schools.

Meanwhile, there are a few innovative ways that educational technology can improve the quality of education in rural classrooms ranging from a wider variety of subjects offered, expanded library access, virtual trips, and others.

Rural schools often have smaller teaching forces to accompany their smaller student populations. Smaller faculties necessarily limit a school’s ability to offer specialized content, schedule a more enormous variety of class subjects, or incorporate more on-site talents and skills.

Rural students typically have less access to books in their schools while public libraries in rural areas are hard-pressed to compete with their peer schools in more densely populated areas.

Staffing is limited while hours of operation are restricted and actual resources are limited. Students and pupils it serves may find it near impossible to get there due to limited transportation or family schedules.

By their very nature, rural schools are more isolated geographically and tend to be less affluent as well. This can result in fewer enrichment opportunities for their students.

But through virtual field trips offered by programs like FieldTripZoom and Discovery Education, rural students can experience the whole world’s wonders. Harvard researcher Robert Putnam has done extensive research on problems caused by isolation and concluded that: “One of the most promising applications of technology in our public schools is the use of technology to transcend the physical classroom and combat this growing isolation.”

Virtual field trips allow students to get a sense of the world’s museums, explore the rainforests, and the arctic, or connect with students of the same age from another culture on the other side of the world. While a virtual experience is not as enriching as a real-life encounter, it can spark a sense of wonder and possibility. It may open a door for a child in a remote, rural community that he/she eventually walks through as an adult.

It is worthy of note that, improving and increasing the use of technology in rural areas in education is an ever-changing and ever-expanding field. There are still plenty of challenges imposed by funding and underdeveloped internet services, but the future looks bright for rural schools.

Not only do students in rural areas benefit from educational tools and increased access to information and resources, but they grow and mature from the networking and connectedness created by technology.

A world of global and diverse friendships is opened to them, expanding their horizons and vision of who and what they can be.

Deborah Effiong is an IT student from the Department of Curriculum and Teaching, University of Calabar with CrossRiverWatch.

NB: Opinions expressed in this article are strictly attributable to the author, Deborah Effiong, and do not represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.

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