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There’s an Education Gap Between Rural and Urban Communities. Can Technology Bridge It?

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Researchers identified a program that helps rural students learn—and improves their incomes later in life.

Yevgenia Nayberg Where a child is born has enormous influence over their educational future.

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Even within nations, there tends to be a yawning gap between urban and rural education outcomes. For instance, according to one 2015 standardized assessment, 15-year-olds studying in urban schools in 37 countries outperformed rural students by roughly the equivalent of one full year of schooling, even after controlling for students’ socioeconomic backgrounds.

Many of the solutions intended to narrow this urban–rural gap rely on technology—with a particular focus on tech tools that can help connect far-flung students to quality educators. But are these technologies really up to the challenge?

Most previous research on this question has focused on short-term outcomes, like the immediate effects on students’ test scores, notes Nicola Bianchi , assistant professor of strategy at the Kellogg School.

In a new study, however, Bianchi and coauthors Yi Lu , at Tsinghua University in Beijing, and Hong Song , at Fudan University in Shanghai, consider much-longer-term impacts: how much school rural students completed and what […]

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