By Benita M. Dodd
It’s big. In fact, “massive” is a more apt description of the change overtaking education in Georgia. Some are hanging for dear life onto the “old school” ways, but technology is dragging them, kicking and screaming, into approaches that will forever disrupt the class.
In just the month of May, even as schools closed for the summer break, three “massive” announcements shook the education establishment:
The factory model, cookie-cutter approach to learning is fast becoming history in Georgia. The vast array of online resources can help schools, teachers and parents customize education to the child’s learning style, and children will be able to learn and advance at their own pace versus the pace of the class as a whole.
The questions about whether a child is learning and where that child is experiencing difficulties in grasping a subject are being answered with the state’s innovative Longitudinal Data System being rolled out. All teachers will soon have access by computer, through the school district student information system to historical student data, curriculum standards and instructional resources. Even better, as Georgia Tech’s $7,000 degree demonstrates, technology can help deliver education more cost-effectively.
As Georgia moves forward into new territory, there will be hurdles, but they are not mountains. For example, many Georgia students have no access to the Internet or a computer at home; many schools have insufficient bandwidth to serve all students. Many older teachers may not be tech-savvy enough to use the online resources adequately as a teaching tool. That won’t always be the case; access is spreading and broadband and wireless technology are advancing. Plus, the younger generation of educators understands the digital world in which most children are operating, too.
The Internet will never replace the teacher in the classroom, but online education is no longer a “virtual” thing. It’s a reality, one that should not be viewed as a threat. It must be embraced for the learning tool that it is, opening up the globe and a whole new world of possibilities in school choice, in assisting in the education of Georgia’s children and in ensuring a skilled workforce. And goodness knows, Georgia education needs all the help it can get.
For information on Georgia’s K-12 online courses, go to www.gadoe.org/_layouts/gadoepublic.spapp/clearinghouse.aspx
For information on Georgia’s online learning resources, go to http://www.gavirtuallearning.org/
For information on the Longitudinal Data System, go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=0D8eNiO3YNs
Benita Dodd is vice president of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, an independent, state-focused think tank that proposes market-oriented approaches to public policy to improve the lives of Georgians. Nothing written here is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation or as an attempt to aid or hinder the passage of any bill before the U.S. Congress or the Georgia Legislature.
©Georgia Public Policy Foundation (May 31, 2013). Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided the author and her affiliations are cited.
The Georgia Public Policy Foundation has hit another homerun with its Guide to the Issues. This is must reading for anyone interested in public policy in Georgia, and it is an outstanding road map for conservative, common sense solutions to our challengers of today and tomorrow.