UP TO SPEED: Rural School Districts Turn to Technology to Enhance Learning

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo — Findings of the FCC’s latest funding report says Missouri is behind the times, and has allocated the state more than $254 million dollars for high speed internet access over the next 10 years.

That’s more than any other state in the Connect America Funding of more than $1.4 billion dollars.

“We are behind the rest of the country on this, and I’m not satisfied with that,” said Missouri Senator, Roy Blunt.

“Whether it’s farming in the field, keeping up with commodity prices, or your kids having the ability for equal access when they are doing their homework. There is no reason we can’t solve this.”

Crocker High School, located in the heart of the Show-Me State is a prime example of how this funding can transform the rural education system.

Cell phone service is spotty outside the school that educated around 600 students, K-12.

Historically, it’s been a rural community where agriculture and athletics have taken the drivers seat.

But not anymore.

“Wow. It’s drastic. We have a lot more online textbooks and online everything now,” explained seniors Mackenzie Killian and Koltan York.

These Crocker natives never expected that by senior year, their rural community high school, would offer high speed internet access, and a shot at journalism.

“Honestly I didn’t think we would have all of these opportunities like some of the bigger schools around here,” said Killian.

“I didn’t think so growing up but I’m glad it happened.”

A weekly student-production broadcast airs on Youtube, and is watched by peers with their own respective opportunities, ranging from a pair of Microsoft Hololenses and augmented reality in workshop class, to Chromebook laptops and drones.

“Sports are really big around here and some people think that it’s the only way to get known. But there are so many other things now that you can get recognized for,” followed York.

6th year Technology Director Bill Towns has implemented most of the improvements. Seamless wifi now spans their entire campus, and has enabled teachers to get outside. Many of them utilize virtual field trips and e-books to expand student learning.

“We have just upped the game so to speak. We want the kids to be able to experience technology in a positive way.”

Principal Heath Waters said, “we need to as a small school provide big school opportunities with a small school budget.”

In just 4 years, Waters has expanded curriculum to include a business department and numerous social studies classes. The Missouri Department of Education, and schools around the Show-Me State, have began taking notice.

“We’ve seen grades increase, attendance increase, and we have just seen the initiative in the technology enhance students interest and how they approach every day classrooms.”

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