The Idaho Statesman reports that student-teacher interactions via video conferencing over a dedicated broadband network soon could become commonplace in Idaho, thanks to the new Idaho Education Network. The network is charged with making sure the state’s 200 high schools have the technological capability to send or receive classes from other high schools or colleges by 2012. Educators see the network as a way to expand course offerings in small rural schools that might not have some classes that large schools can offer–but the network can help urban schools, too. The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation, which announced a $20 million initiative last week to improve Idaho’s sagging college attendance and completion rates, is so impressed with the opportunities afforded by the network that it pledged $6 million to help carry its work to schools and better prepare high school students for college. "It levels the playing field," said Jamie MacMillan, the foundation’s executive director. Created by the state Legislature in the 2009 session, the network launched in July. It was financed with $3 million in federal economic stimulus money, which is expected to end this year, and $7 million in e-Rate dollars. The Albertson money and continuing e-Rate dollars could keep the network funded at $10 million a year for two additional fiscal years–enough time to build and operate the system, network officials say…

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