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Back to School: New Opportunities for the Virtual Classroom

The front entrance of Anderson Public School in rural Gallatin County, Montana. USDA photo.

The front entrance of Anderson Public School in rural Gallatin County, Montana. USDA photo.

Back to school means a fun and exciting way to learn for students of Anderson Public School in rural Gallatin County, Montana. Using a Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant from USDA Rural Development, Anderson Public School and nine other rural schools in Montana installed the necessary equipment to connect their students to share and expand learning opportunities.

Through the web-based portable videoconferencing equipment, the students in this community southwest of Bozeman, Montana have already been able to move beyond the walls of their classroom. The 4th grade class made a virtual visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, and as the 8th grade students rode the ferry to see the Statue of Liberty, their classmates in the 7th grade were able to join from back in Montana thanks to the equipment. Enterprising students are already coming up with new curriculum to share with their peers, including a student-led class on using a green screen to make your own videos.

Principal Jeff Blessum says staff and students alike consider the new equipment a positive experience. “[They have a] strong desire to continue this means of learning.”  The teachers are looking forward to new opportunities the virtual classroom will provide when school starts this fall, including professional development for faculty to meet new educational standards and to share resources.  This fall, the district hopes to extend their Spanish language class to another school through the virtual classroom setup.

Anderson Public School and nine other rural Montana schools received a USDA Rural Development Distance Learning and Telemedicine grant in 2010 to purchase video conferencing equipment, document cameras, whiteboards and mobile media equipment to connect students and teachers to educational resources and curricula.

Read more about the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program.

One Response to “Back to School: New Opportunities for the Virtual Classroom”

  1. Bobbie Jo Henry says:

    This is what I’m talking about! Way to go!

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