MOREnet program: bringing technology to classrooms in rural Missouri for nearly a quarter century
By Tim Wolfe
Michelle Ebers is an instructor at Community R-VI in the Audrain County community of Laddonia, where she utilizes tablets to increase engagement among her students while teaching a lesson in saving natural resources. Her students complete and submit digital worksheets, allowing for immediate feedback and real-time corrections, while saving 200 sheets of paper weekly by using the tablets instead of worksheets.
Community R-VI has school-wide wireless Internet and portable devices available in every classroom, helping make Ms. Ebers’ lesson possible, thanks to in-service trainings from the Missouri Research and Education Network, or MOREnet. A business unit of the University of Missouri System, MOREnet is an organization that provides Internet connectivity, access to Internet2, technical services, resources and support and technical training to public sector entities across the state of Missouri. More than 700 such entities across Missouri benefit from MOREnet membership, including many of our K-12 schools, colleges and universities, public libraries, health care, local government and other affiliated organizations.
Schools are where MOREnet has seen its largest impact since its establishment in 1991, because technology is an essential part of today’s classroom. Throughout our state, teachers are using videos, online resources and interactive devices to engage and inspire their pupils. Students have grown to expect interaction with their subject matter through web-based tools and hands-on technology, which allow each student to progress at their own pace without disruption to others. Through membership service packages, MOREnet provides training that empowers and enables Missouri school staff to stay on top of technical trends in education.
The results have been impressive. In the past two years alone, MOREnet has trained nearly 15,000 educators from about 200 unique K-12 schools in educational technology, with approximately 77 percent of those educators located in rural school districts in Missouri. It’s safe to say that, if you attend a public school or visit a public library somewhere in rural Missouri, there’s a great chance that you are benefitting from access to technology thanks to MOREnet.
That includes students in Higginsville, where Gary Wheeler, principal in the Lafayette County C-1 district appreciates the resources MOREnet provides. “MOREnet has done an outstanding job providing the professional development and support needed to help us keep up with the rapidly changing technology resources available to educators,” he said.
Added Karma Coleman, superintendent of the Nodaway-Holt R-VII school district, "Google Apps for Education includes a variety of free resources, but understanding how to use it can be a very time-consuming process. MOREnet’s training programs help us maximize those resources and therefore extend our district’s budget."
Expanding access to technology far beyond our biggest cities and towns is a time-honored American tradition, a tradition epitomized by MOREnet for the past 24 years. The affect MOREnet has had on generations of rural teachers, students and communities has been impressive, and is also yet another great example of how the University of Missouri System touches Missourians in every county of our state, every day, in a variety of ways.
This OpEd was written by Tim Wolfe, President of the University of Missouri System.