By MJ Kneiser, WLHR Radio, Lavonia
Bringing students and teachers into 21st Century education via social media and virtual learning is the goal of the Franklin County School Board.
At the Franklin County Chamber and Rotary luncheon last Tuesday, School Superintendent Dr. Ruth Odell outlined the main objectives of the school board for the future.
Odell said students today are constantly on their iPads, or smartphones, texting and surfing the Web.
She said the school system must adapt to the new social media and how students today learn.
“When you see students today, they are texting, using tablets, with earphones in their ears listening to their iPods,” Odell told the group Tuesday. “They know more about social media than you or I do and we in the schools have to catch up. We’re going to need to move to more virtual learning even in our high schools, more blended learning using new and traditional ways to reach these students of today.”
Odell went on to say that the school board has adopted a three-year strategic plan based on the new core curriculum adopted by Georgia.
“Almost all of our states now have adopted the same curriculum,” she said. “For the fist time in the U.S. hopefully we’ll have all of our arrows going in the same direction. Tests will go along with that and more critical, higher learning.”
According to Odell, that bar of learning involves more critical thinking, research, and comprehensive reading skills
Another vital step to improving education in Franklin County, Odell says, is to change the school system culture and engage the community.
Odell said today’s parents must be involved in their child’s development and must demand excellence in the schools.
“It’s a new day. There’s going to be lots more options out there for people to access education,” she said.
But in order to bring the schools and lessons into the 21st century so students can one day compete in the new global economy, they must have access to virtual learning.
Odell said Franklin County Schools must be equipped with more computers, tablets and other media that can connect students to the virtual learning world.
She explained that the board’s fourth goal is organizational effectiveness.
“We’ve got to be put together with the right materials and hardware to support this kind of change (in education),” she said. “There’s no way right now that we even have the bandwidth to offer this kind of virtual learning.”
Odell said the board is looking everywhere it can for grant money and other resources to pay for the expanded bandwidth and computer technology needed for teachers to help students to keep pace with other school systems across Georgia.