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Breaking Down The Barriers of the Classroom with Virtual Field Trips

by Tyler Wantulok on August 14, 2012

Have you ever wondered what it was like to stand outside the Colosseum in Rome? Or be on Safari in the Austrailian Outback? Or visit the Smithsonian's most recent exhibition? Maybe not, but chances are you have dreamed of some faraway land and maybe you've been lucky enough to visit in person.

Students in rural communities across the United States share those same dreams. More importantly than just dreams however, are the authentic teaching opportunities that can be fueled by those dreams and powered by distance learning. With the rise of the Internet, awareness and access to information is greater than ever. But access alone does not equate to engaging educational content. Truly breaking down the barriers of the classroom requires an experience that captures the attention of a young student. Virtual field trips are just that experience. They literally open up a whole new world of rich experiences for students. In the past, the idea of a virtual field trip was more striking that the experience itself due to technology limitations. That no longer is the case with crystal clear video and perfect sound quality of today's advanced technology.

With the rise of RUS Distance Learning (and Telemedicine) Grants, schools in rural communities now have the chance to improve their advanced telecommunication technology to take students on these virtual field trips. The Australian Outback isn't halfway around the world anymore, it's in their classroom. Learn more about Froid, MT, virtual field trips HERE

What is a RUS Grant?
A RUS grant is a grant, loan, or land-grant combination that helps rural communities secure technology with grant assistance. For communities who qualify, significant funding is available to help purchase telecommunication technology. Eligibility is based on several factors, though the program is designed to favor the most rural of communities. Urban locations can apply, but they need to achieve a higher score to secure funding.

Naturally, schools that may qualify want to understand the big picture. Download a case study on RUS grants HERE.

Below, you'll see four big questions and answers about RUS grants.

For schools that qualify, is the funding enough to make a difference?
Absolutely. The range of awards is between $50,000 and $500,000, which can make a significant impact in nearly any educational environment.

What can RUS grant funding be used for?
The grant must be used for equipment whose primary use is distance learning.

What do successful applicants look like?
Successful schools are those who first qualify strongly on the objective considerations of the grant (for example: rurality, economic needs, ability to match funding) and also demonstrate innovative thinking on the more subjective considerations. Unique equipment use and supreme cost effectiveness are examples of the kind of innovative thinking that helps create valuable proposals.

Where can schools go for grant assistance?
Organizations and IT companies with experience in RUS grant writing and funding exist to help schools in rural communities secure funding.

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