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Status of Education in Rural America
NCES 2007-040
June 2007

3.5. Internet and computer access


Nearly all public schools, both nationally and in rural areas, had Internet access in 2005. In rural areas, the number of public school students per instructional computer with Internet access in school was lower than in suburban and city schools.

In 2005, virtually all public schools, in all locales, had some type of Internet access. Among public schools with Internet access, 97 percent used a broadband Internet connection and 45 percent had wireless Internet connections. Internet access in instructional rooms was available in 94 percent of all public schools, and 15 percent of all public schools offered wireless Internet connections in instructional classrooms (table 3.5a). In general, there were few variations detected in these percentages between public schools in rural areas and in other locales. However, the percentage of public schools with Internet access in instructional rooms was higher in rural areas (95 percent) than in cities (88 percent) (figure 3.5).

Nationwide, on average there was one instructional computer with Internet access for every 3.8 public school students (table 3.5b). In rural areas, the ratio was one instructional computer with Internet access for every 3.0 public school students, which was lower than the corresponding ratios in suburban areas (1 to 4.3) and cities (1 to 4.2), though not measurably different from the ratio in towns (1 to 3.3).

In rural areas, 19 percent of public schools provided teachers with hand-held computers1 for instructional purposes, 7 percent provided hand-held computers to students, and 12 percent loaned laptop computers to students. In general, the percentage of public schools providing these services to their teachers or students did not show much variation between rural areas and other locales. However, a greater percentage of public schools in rural areas loaned laptop computers to students (12 percent) than schools in cities (7 percent) (figure 3.5).


1 Hand-held computers are personal digital assistants such as Palm Pilots or Pocket PCs. Schools were asked to include all hand-held computers provided for instructional purposes, including those available for loan.

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