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Copy+Paste: SC Digital Learning and Georgia

Posted: December 26, 2013 8:45 a.m.
Updated: December 27, 2013 5:00 a.m.

There is a nifty computer function called “copy+paste.” Virtually everyone who uses a computer has figured out how to use this function as it’s very simple and very useful.

All you do is highlight some text, from a few words to many pages, then hit “copy” and then decide where you want to move the text to and hit “paste”… and like magic, there it is. Words -- or pictures, ideas, graphics, most anything -- perfectly moved from one place to the other without having to redo anything.

And there is a second cool feature called “find+replace.” With this you simply highlight a word, say “Georgia,” and replace it with another, say “South Carolina.” It makes the changes in all the right places throughout the document.

S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley ought to use these two computer functions to produce a “South Carolina Digital Learning Task Force Report” like the one that Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal released this week.

What we need to do in South Carolina really is just about that simple.

Unless you have been living in a cave for the last 10 years or so, you understand that using technology and computers is what is required for quality education, both today and in the future. Computers and digital learning are the 21st century equivalents of the chalk boards and the three R’s -- reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic.

In April of 2012, Gov. Deal appointed a 16-person task force with staffing from existing agencies and the help of Digital Leaning Now, a national group founded by former Gov. Jeb Bush to promote digital learning in the states. Over the next 18 months, the group met eight times and heard presentations by “the best and brightest” in Georgia and nationally about what they should do.

There were 12 recommendations but they all boiled down to five key points: 1) increase broadband access to all Georgia schools, 2) encourage the transition from textbooks to digital content, 3) align all course options to ensure that students and parents have clear information about what course choices are available, 4) fund pilot projects of blended online and classroom learning, and 5) create a funding mechanism and assessment system that provides the flexibility required for students to progress through courses when they master standards rather than all at the same pace.

In one sense, this is all pretty basic stuff. For folks who keep up with digital learning initiatives, it’s pretty clear that success across all 50 states is based on roughly the same key ingredients as outlined for Georgia.

And so how is South Carolina doing in comparison to other states? It’s good news and bad news and really good news. According to Digital Learning Now’s national report card, the good news is that compared to other states, we rank ninth (Georgia is seventh). The bad news is that we get an overall grade of C, only 75 out of a possible 100 score, on actually doing what we ought to be doing.

The really good news is that it is crystal clear what we need to do. Digital Learning Now outlines the standards and processes needed, and Gov. Deal in Georgia has shown what a state needs to do to get their act together and make it happen -- to prepare their children for digital learning.

And all the information on how Gov. Deal set up and ran his Task Force, the members, the agenda and presentations for each of the meetings and the final report with recommendations, are all online at gov.Georgia.gov (Ed. Note: This is the correct address.). Look in the Newsroom section for the report issued on Dec. 18.

So Gov. Haley, there it is -- all you need to get started and to make South Carolina a national leader in digital leaning, and help ensure a better future for our children and our state.

I know you are pretty good with a computer, as I see all of the activity on your Facebook page and on Twitter, so I’m pretty sure you understand how to use both “copy+paste” and “find+replace.”

And I’m sure if you have any trouble, both Gov. Deal and Gov. Bush would be happy to come be you help desk -- after all, they too are Republican governors.

Gov. Haley, you (and we) owe it to our children to prepare them via digital learning -- and not hit “delete” on their future.

(Phil Noble is a businessman in Charleston and president of the SC New Democrats, an independent reform group founded by former Gov. Richard Riley. His column is provided by the S.C. News Exchange.)

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