Digital learning will be an emphasis throughout the state following an executive order signed by Gov. Nathan Deal on Monday.
The governor announced he is creating a task force charged with implementing digital learning in Georgia’s public schools.
“Students need to develop technical literacy in order to attain 21st century skills and become competitive in the global marketplace, and our state will invest in that education,” said Deal in a press release. “We must increase the quality and quantity of our digital learning opportunities to ensure that our students are college or career ready.”
The Digital Learning Task Force, composed of 10 members to be named by the governor, will recommend ways to enhance student success through the creation of digital learning environments, including digital textbooks and mobile devices.
Members of the task force will include two superintendents, a state representative, a state senator, a district-level content specialist and business leaders who rely on a technically competent workforce.
Gainesville City Schools and Hall County Schools, however, have already recognized the importance of those technological skills and are implanting such programs in their systems today.
“Certainly technology provides great potential in terms of bringing us into the 21st century with public schools and learning,” said Will Schofield, Hall superintendent.
Both systems allow students to use their mobile devices (smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc.) as educational tools while in class and employ international video conferences in classrooms, among others.
“The creation of the digital learning task force will support the commitment that Gainesville City School System has made to embrace technology in all of our classrooms,” said Jamey Moore, Gainesville director of curriculum and instruction. “The knowledge that our system vision aligns with Gov. Deal’s vision for education in our state reminds us all that we are doing the right work for students.”
The governor will name the task force appointments in the coming weeks.
“I would think Gov. Deal is certainly on the right track,” said Schofield. “We have to use the power that technology gives us to make learning more effective.”
That power, Schofield says, can “flatten the world,” making resources available in areas that may not have previously had access to that, including some rural areas.
“In that sense, technology can play the role of the great leveler,” he said.
And over the past 2« years, Hall County has been working on a blended-learning model, using both in-class and online educational tools.
The blended-learning environment could change the way education is looked at. It could effectively individualize learning.
And that learning could take place 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in school or at home.
“We’ve talked about that for 150 years starting with the one-room schoolhouse,” said Schofield. “The key for a great education is the ability to individualize it for every child based on their God-given passions and their God-given gifts. Technology is going to give us the first real opportunity to really have a chance to do that in the history of American education.”
But he does issue a caution.
“I think the caution that I continue to give our people is that the research is pretty clear that online learning does not and cannot replace those interactions and feedback that you get from a teacher,” Schofield said. “It certainly is not the de-emphasizing role of the teacher. It’s redefining the role of the teacher.”