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The Promise and the Reality: Exploring Virtual Schooling in Rural Juristictions

Education in Rural Australia Volume 21, Number 1, ISSN 1036-0026


The history of online learning at the K-12 level is almost as long as its history at the post-secondary level, with the first virtual school programs beginning in the early 1990s. While these opportunities were designed as a way to provide rural students with access to more specialized courses, as opportunities have become organized into virtual or cyber schools the nature of students served by these institutions have broadened. Unlike online learning in general, much less is known about virtual schooling--even less of which is based on systematic research. Regardless, the growth and practice of virtual schooling has far out-paced the production of reliable and valid research. This paper will focus upon describing the evolution of K-12 online learning in Canada and the United States, how that evolution has impacted rural schools, and what lessons can be learned from the experiences with K-12 online learning in these two countries. (Contains 5 tables and 1 figure.)


Barbour, M.K. (2011). The Promise and the Reality: Exploring Virtual Schooling in Rural Juristictions. Education in Rural Australia, 21(1), 1-19. Retrieved May 17, 2022 from .

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