Using Skoolaborate in Rural Schools
The Frontier Learning Network superintendent and assistant superintendent are presenting this week at the Oregon School Boards Association conference in Portland. The theme of the presentation is Expanding Course Offerings in Rural Schools. Located in a rural and remote area of Oregon where the four-legged animals outnumber the two-legged ones, some high schools only have enough students to justify four teachers. There is no combination of teaching licenses and endorsements which would enable those four teachers to provide for all students the courses needed for a basic graduation diploma, let alone the variety of quality educational opportunities available for students in the area.
Fifteen years ago, the local educational leaders began brainstorming ways to collaborate and offer alternative approaches to expand course offerings. They began a cutting-edge approach using technology, and what we now refer to as hybrid or blended delivery, to allow teachers highly qualified in business, computers, health sciences, and natural resources to offer courses to students in six school districts in a 3700 square mile area. With the use of high-tech mobile classrooms, interactive video conferencing, itinerant teachers, these courses were a great boon to the area.
As a side note, you may ask why health sciences and natural resources. Health sciences is because in this rural area, all emergency services are provided by volunteers—first aide, paramedics, first responders, firefighters. We wanted to be sure to train our own quite well. As for natural resources, we sit on top of the largest mammal fossil depository in the continental US. I may also note that the center of our area, Condon, is the home of two men who were awarded two Nobel Peace Prize winners.
As technology has grown and enhanced, we have embraced immersive environments, desktop share, group applications, and all kinds of collaboration opportunities. Our courses cover grades 3 through high school and into community education with a greatly expanded offering of courses. Also, we are now opening up our membership to the Frontier Learning Network to other schools. Our course and service offerings are covered in the presentations below.