Combating rural school closures -- telepresence teaching?

Last week the New York Times published an article entitled "School's Closed. Forever." (NYT June 13 2018). The article chronicled the closure of the only elementary school in Arena Wisconsin, threatening the actual survival of this small town: 

"The same scene is playing out across rural America. Officials in aging communities with stretched budgets are closing small schools and busing children to larger towns. People worry about losing not just their schools but their town’s future — that the closing will prompt the remaining residents and businesses to drift away and leave the place a ghost town."

The article citied the recent similar news about Vermont school closures. And, as the administrator for the Portage WI school district added, "You can’t have four teachers for 40 kids”.  

Yet, perhaps gigabit technology can offer some response to this challenge.  

High quality, low latency connectivity can provide the sense of "telepresence" --  the ability to seamlessly engage in remote locations.  Using a particular approach called LOLA for example, teachers can co-teach classes, students can interactive, and students can even create together when making music, learning dance, or creating art.  

There are potential economic savings for school districts if they have the ability to share teaching staff, bring in teachers or resources from larger districts, or combine geographically distributed students in a common virtual setting.  

If you have practical ideas on how this might be further developed, the 2018 Reverse Pitch competition team would like to hear them.  A specific idea, that can be advanced into a proof of concept (even using off the shelf equipment), could be eligible for an idea grant ($2,000 - June 29) or final grant ($10,000 in October).   

We'd love to have your ideas on how to combat this challenge facility Vermont and similar communities!

Dennis Moynihan