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Can Technology Bridge the Urban-Rural Education Gap?


student watching lecture on laptop computer, illustration

Credit: Yevgenia Nayberg

The yawning gap between urban and rural education outcomes was found to be roughly equivalent to one full year of schooling in 37 countries throughout the world, according to one standarized assessment. Can technology narrow this urban-rural gap?

In a new study finds that computer-assisted learning can be effective in reducing the rural-urban education gap. "The Effect of Computer-Assisted Learning on Students' Long-Term Development" is published on the Social Science Research Network.

The researchers focused on a Chinese government program to connect over 100 million rural students with highly qualified urban teachers via satellite. The study found that rural Chinese middle school students who had access to lectures recorded by top urban teachers ultimately completed more education than their peers and earned significantly more once they started working.

"Technology can be a fantastic way to bring high-quality education by some of the best teachers in the country to rural areas without trying to convince teachers to relocate," says co-author Nicola Bianchi of the Kellogg School at Northwestern University. "In other words, when it comes to increasing the quality of education in these underserved areas, technology can be the channel through which we achieve that."

From Northwestern University
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