OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Thoughtstarter: Higher Education Remote Location Service [Please Build On This]

A service that brings higher education learning to students in rural and remote areas

Photo of Kate Rushton
8 3

Written by

A service for students in remote areas to allow them to have a human connection when they are learning online, are studying at local colleges and are considering higher education. 

This service could include any of the following or more:

  • 'higher education on wheels': a mobile education service where a higher education mentors (graduates, current students, lecturers, researchers, teacher assistants) travel to students to offer support and guidance in person and help them work towards their individual learning goals. This support could cover academic issues, mental health issues and intensive classes;
  • students have individual learning journey plans with check in points with a mentor:
  • option for students to connect to local projects to utilise the skills they are learning online or conduct research specific to rural areas for companies and municipalities e.g. Mind Sumo or the Sense Network but for rural communities in return for credits or financial reward e.g. ideas for Rural Smart Growth and Rural Sustainable Development (see EPA report). Could there be connections to be made with the rural freelancers and rural businesses e.g. Rural Sourcing?
  • online 'bridge' program: additional online courses for rural students who want to attend a local two-year college but still get accreditation and receive some of the courses that are included in a four-year college degree;
  • learning clubs for rural students with peer-to-peer learning and an online, remote mentor;
  • higher education students teaching their subjects in rural high schools as part of an assessed group/project session or offering support on college applications;
  • option for rural students to ‘dial-in’ to class sessions at higher education institutions and follow condensed, in-person summer class;
  • online group mentoring sessions for rural students.

I am unable to develop an idea for this challenge. Feel free to build upon this and develop ideas for rural students or other students that are underrepresented in higher education. 

How can higher education target parents (single mothers), veterans, undocumented, native students, homeschooled students and students aged 18 to 24 through the option of a bootcamp/program instead of university or university top ups as well as a bootcamp?

What other groups of students are underrepresented in higher education?

Background Information:

“Students in rural counties are less likely to attend college, and those who do are less likely to choose a four-year, private, or highly selective institution, according to a recent report.

Students at low-income rural schools are less likely to attend college than their peers at high-income rural schools, and are also less likely to continue on to their second year of college.”

Source: Hechinger Report

“Not only does location affect whether a student enrolls, but race plays a role as well, said Darris R. Means, an assistant professor in the UGA College of Education. With about 580,000 students in rural schools across Georgia—and nearly 40 percent students of color—this can have a tremendous effect on college access, Means said.”

Source: News Medical

Who is your idea designed for and how does it reimagine higher education to support the needs of tomorrow?

This idea is for high school and higher education students in very rural and remote areas who are underrepresented in higher education and may not wish to or be able to attend a higher education institution in a more urban area. It reimagines higher education by giving human support and opportunities to students that want to remain in very remote locations but still access higher education opportunities available to students in more urban areas.

This idea emerged from:

  • An individual

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

Please build on this idea

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

Please build on this idea

Tell us about your work experience:

I am the Community Guide for this challenge.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Andres Felipe Vera Ramirez

Hi Kate Rushton 

Even though, we are already in the Ideas phase, let me tell you a short story.

Some months ago, I visited a rural school, just a few hours away from my city, Medellin (Colombia). Students there don't have drinkable water, but have computers (with low quality internet). Most of the students have to travel for hours to go to school; just a few of them have bicycles. There were very few classrooms for children of many different ages ... To be honest, I may have more education than them, although, I'm not sure I have more knowledge, or more knowhow than these young students who creatively overcome hard challenges daily.

I see places like this, as a great source of inspiration. For instance, I don't want to see the OPEN Media Lab as a purely online experience - actually, the platform would be useful, although the communities behind are really the fundamental ingredients-. For instance, I IMAGINE one day at this school like this:

It's one ordinary day at school. A group of volunteers have come to this place to learn, not to teach - although they have USBs full of curated videos from different MOOCs, with subtitles in Spanish. We don't have tools, so we will have to improvise. The subjects these kids are learning this day will be part of the content -along with everyones experiences, from different backgrounds. This is just the beginning... this day will be a Hackaton. "¿Can we stay -and continue- for a week?", say volunteers, children and teachers at the end of the day. This is just the beginning. Is this now a Bootcamp?, Is this the beginning of an online mentoring program?... Let's experiment.

Thank you for allowing me to remember, for open our minds to new ideas by exposing different contexts ... I will keep dreaming on this.

PS: Apologize me if the comment was confusing with the imaginary story (and the real one). I want to express myself as clear as I can, and sometimes "ideas" are not as compelling as stories. I'm just learning.

View all comments