Idaho State University to Receive Grant to Increase Distance Learning Opportunities
March 17, 2021
Idaho State University will receive more than $320,000 from the United States Department of Agriculture to support the installations of distance learning classrooms in rural Southeast Idaho high schools, providing nearly 11,000 students in 16 counties with access to college-level classes.
Those classes will take place in distance learning classrooms in students’ own high schools, outfitted with innovative videoconferencing technology that allows students in rural areas to participate in dual enrollment college courses from college professors, with other college students. The technology will provide access to a wider variety of college credits, preparing students for further education.
“It ties our best and brightest to an institution in-state, and then, from there, to internships in-state, and then, from there, back to our communities in-state,” said Mike Corbett, Malad High School principal, at the opening of his high school’s classroom. "It keeps our best and brightest here, where we can grow our communities and benefit the lives of more than just a few."
Idaho State has already opened classrooms at Butte County, Malad, Marsh Valley, North Fremont, Ririe, Rockland, Shoshone-Bannock, Soda Springs and South Fremont high schools and the Blackfoot Outreach Center, and will expand to more rural communities with the support of the USDA grant.
As the community rebounds from the COVID-19 pandemic and students are eager to return to their classrooms, the project will facilitate continued distance learning opportunities. With strong partnerships between the university and communities, students will enjoy a more engaging remote learning environment that invites real-time participation in their classes.
“USDA is helping rural America build back better using technology as a cornerstone to create more equitable communities,” said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a press release. “With health care and education increasingly moving to online platforms, the time is now to make historic investments in rural America to improve quality of life for decades to come.”