WSU Extension to add 11 remote learning sites statewide

Washington State University is expanding rural access to education through 11 new remote learning sites at county Extension offices across the state.

A $430,000 grant from the USDA Rural Utilities Service will be used to purchase remote learning technology, offering individuals who cannot travel far an alternative means of accessing educational classes and coursework. The remote learning sites will also be general purpose, meaning that a variety of people can use them.

Headshot of Mike Gaffney.
Mike Gaffney, assistant director of Washington State University Extension.

“Undergraduates will be able to take for-credit classes closer to where they live, but these sites will also be incredibly useful for those pursuing additional job skills or those looking to add competencies to their existing educational background,” said Mike Gaffney, assistant director of WSU Extension.

For-credit and not-for-credit remote instruction, webinars, and certificate program courses will be offered at eight of the locations, with a target of benefiting more than 2,000 remote students and doubling the reach of WSU’s distance education offerings. Content will be created and disseminated via the other three sites.

“Rural residents will now be able to connect with educators and experts located at distances too far to travel,” said Washington State Director of USDA Rural Development Helen Price Johnson. “WSU Extension is a natural partner to reach these communities, since they already have offices serving all 39 counties and one tribal partner.”

For many, high-speed internet is no guarantee. During the COVID-19 pandemic, WSU Extension worked with the Washington State Broadband Office to identify and address gaps in service. The new remote learning sites will further eliminate that roadblock, which impacts many rural individuals looking to bolster their résumés or complete for-credit coursework.

“We learned during COVID-19 that there are two primary barriers to learning: lack of access to high-speed internet and the appropriate technology,” Gaffney said.

The remote learning sites will provide both.

“This project is meaningful because we are increasing Extension’s capacity to offer these university services statewide,” said Gaffney. “For reasons personal, practical, or economic, individuals who couldn’t further their education before will now be able to participate.”

University IT professionals are already gearing up to begin outfitting the remote learning centers with new equipment and software.

“Once these centers are running, everyone from master gardeners to those pursuing pesticide applicator credits will benefit,” said Gaffney. “We will have narrowed the existing accessibility gap for many who would like to partake in learning opportunities.”

Media contact

Mike Gaffney, email:, phone: 509-335-4611