On the Digital Frontier: Stakeholders in Rural Areas Take on Educational Technology and Schooling

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Even in the most remote U.S. rural contexts today technology is a part of schooling. This article explores stakeholders’ perceptions of educational technology as it relates to schooling in six rural districts in the state of Idaho. Stakeholder descriptions were collected using sondeo style focus groups with seven specific groups (students, parents, teachers, support staff, community members, principals, boards, and superintendents) in each district (n = 42). Stakeholders believe the educational technology in their schooling environments is both necessary and welcome in their districts; however, their assessments indicated that despite a decades-long policy push aimed at increasing educational equity, augmenting schooling facilities with technology presents complex resourcing challenges. The conclusion explores how different experiences and conceptualizations of context shape individuals’ understanding and implementation of educational technology. We argue that a more contextualized view of technology-oriented change is needed. One that better positions rural place as something to be protected (as opposed to overcome) in order to leverage the best of both what technology and place have to offer in changing rural communities.