- Two focus groups consisting of rural school district CTOs and superintendents, with 10-15 members each, shared their thoughts on educational technology challenges and opportunities with the Consortium for School Networking, according to EdTech: Focus on K-12.
- The top four challenges for rural districts include access to reliable broadband internet, lower funding resulting from a smaller tax base, difficulty recruiting staff with the expertise and experience needed, and a larger gap for understanding the "why" of educational technology among their communities.
- Three opportunities exist, however, in that their smaller size allows them to be more flexible and give administrators more ownership in what happens in schools, they have greater community involvement and they have greater success at retaining educators who embrace the small-town lifestyle.
Reliable broadband access has long been a concern for rural districts, as the nation still has many regions that aren't yet connected via terrestrial infrastructure. Some, for example, have had to rely instead on satellite internet. The funding concerns faced by these districts can also impact those access concerns, though the Federal Communications Commission's E-rate program can help plug some of those gaps. And Chairman Ajit Pai has previously suggested placing a greater focus on rural districts with that funding.
Still, the difficulty in finding IT personnel in some of these regions can present further challenges even when access is taken into account. This could require districts to collaborate and share personnel on this front — a move that, despite potential logistical headaches, can prevent any one staffer from having to serve in an all-purpose role.