Distance Education Potential For A Canadian Rural Island Community


The purpose of the study was to investigate the potential impact of distance education on a small, rural, Canadian island community. Presently, the population of small, rural island communities on the west coast of Canada are facing numerous challenges to retain and to attract permanent residents and families and to provide support and direction for those residents who wish to pursue K-12 accreditation, post-secondary education, vocational/trades training and up-grading or life-long learning. A unique set of considerations confront many of these isolated communities if they wish to engage in distance education and training. This set ranges from internet access to excessive travel by secondary students to the lack of centralized facility. For this study, a group of 48 participants were interviewed to determine their perceptions of the potential for distance education to impact on the community's educational, both academic and vocational, life-long learning and economic needs. The results indicated that there were four general areas of purported benefit: academic advancement, an improved quality of life, support for young families and a stabilizing affect on the local economy. Suggestions for the implementation of a suitable distance education resource are noted.