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Connecting Rural Communities with a Click of Button

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Suzanne Scott

Can you imagine being a resident of rural Colorado, driving hundreds of miles to the next nearest community in order to meet with people, attend job interviews, or gain employable skills through trainings unavailable in your community? Thanks to the improved Distance Learning program at East Central Board of Cooperative Educational Services, widespread rural communities can share information, knowledge, and resources—all with a click of a button.

The Distance Learning program connects with seventeen school districts across the eastern plains of Colorado through video teleconferencing.  This system offers classes to high school students, and provides professional development opportunities for teachers that they might not have access to otherwise.

Recently, East Central Board of Cooperative Educational Services broadened its reach further after receiving a $50,000 grant from El Pomar’s Northeast Regional Council to implement Zoom Desktop Video Conferencing to their Distance Learning program, which allows for easier connections across the state.  The system is computer-based and users can access it with any smart device. Communities are able to meet and share resources quicker than ever before.  The system also allows for expansion into and across rural communities in Eastern Colorado.  Local fire fighters are able to connect with other districts for training, and schools are able to interview potential employees remotely.  High School basketball referees appreciate the accessibility of the system as they no longer need to travel as much during the winter, as they meet regularly video conference with other referees during the basketball season.

Thanks to East Central Board of Cooperative Educational Services and the improved distance learning program, students and community members are able to connect statewide without spending precious time and money travelling.  The trainings and opportunities offered through the improved system are equipping Coloradans of the Eastern Plains with skills to enrich their own lives as students and citizens.