March 28th, 2011

The Digital Divide in Kentucky: Is Rural Online Learning Sustainable?

By J. Kirk Atkinson and Phillip Coleman

This paper describes the perceived condition of access to high-speed Internet for many rural Kentuckians, and reflects on the experience of attempting to bring broadband Internet accessibility to a rural area in Kentucky. This experience is not unlike rural areas in other states however, as numerous stories were discovered over an 8-year period. The general problem for rural areas is explained and potential solutions examined. One such alternative often touted as the ultimate solution for rural residents is satellite Internet access. Data collected over a 4-year period using two of the most popular satellite providers is presented with an analysis of performance based upon speed and price. The results of this study raise doubt as to the sustainability of affordable and quality online education opportunities.

Full PDF:  Atkinson2011

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