Three school districts have been selected to pilot state-of-the-art electronic learning programs as part of the province’s commitment to bridge the digital divide in rural B.C., Minister of Education Christy Clark announced today. “Students and educators living in the heartlands must have the most current electronic teaching tools,” said Clark. “This $225,000 e-learning project advances the commitment we made when we announced the Rural Achievement Task Force Report earlier this year.” Selected as pilot sites are the school districts of: connecting schools in Bamfield, Tofino, Ucluelet and Port Alberni Coast Mountains – in partnership with Prince Rupert and Nisga’a school districts Prince George – connecting schools in Prince George and McBride. Technology upgrades in these districts will start immediately so that course delivery can begin in January. Two or more classes of students will take full courses together using real-time, interactive video over the Internet, as well as e-mail, discussion groups and Web casting. Training for teachers and other district staff will also be possible. “Our goal is to ensure students are doing better in school, no matter where they live,” said Clark. “These pilot sites will help rural students do better. They will have access to programs and resources they might normally not have. For example, a Math 11 course could be taught by a teacher in a classroom at a host school that is linked to a group of students in another location.” The sites will be piloted from January 2004 until June 2005. Government is working on a plan to expand high-speed Internet service to every rural and remote school in British Columbia.