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“Do you have reliable access to high speed internet?” This is considered a qualifying question we needed to ask prospective students when I worked on the student recruitment team for an OPM provider. How many students are we leaving behind in rural communities without access to high speed internet? What does EdTech look like for them and how effective is it?

Dr. Yue Ma is a researcher from Stanford University who has investigated the significance and impact of various education and health projects in rural China. Of particular interest is his work on examining the impact of EdTech, specifically computer-assisted learning, on distance teaching and learning in rural China:

EdTech for Equity in China: Can Technology Improve Teaching for Millions of Rural Students?

Isolating the “Tech” from EdTech: Experimental Evidence on Computer Assisted Learning in China

The Impact of Online Computer Assisted Learning at Home for Disadvantaged Children in Taiwan: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment

The research focuses on the use of EdTech to bridge the educational gap between rural and urban students, factoring in their geographic and economic differences that impact the quality of their education. The insight from this research may be valuable to us as we continue to expand broadband access to rural areas and implement online learning strategies in response to pandemic lockdowns. We are reminded to continue to ask key questions about the effectiveness of an EdTech product or strategy before we roll it out to learners, and to constantly re-evaluate whether the tool has and continues to positively impact online learning.

These articles and more work on EdTech and the rural-urban divide in China can be found at the Rural Education Action Program.