NC on pace to have broadband access in all schools

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Would you believe that North Carolina is on pace to become the first state in the nation to have high speed broadband access in all schools regardless of the community's socio-economic status?

It's true! So what does that mean? Traditional learning methods are going digital and it's already making an impact locally.

"It's been a long time in the works quite frankly," Lt. Gov. Dan Forest said.

He's talking about the North Carolina Digital Learning Plan. A major opportunity he says to bridge the educational divide. It starts with the fact North Carolina will be the first state to have every classroom connected to high speed broadband internet.

"The genesis of it is there really are the have's and have not's of education, all across our state," Forest said. By having this digital access, the next generation of students is getting a whole new learning experience.

"We don't have a one-size-fits-all approach to education anymore. You can now personalize education to each individual student," Forest said.

Digital learning moves away from traditionally teaching students at fixed places and times within school buildings to learning anytime, anywhere, 24/7. It also eliminates learning from printed, out-of-date content to digital content that is easily updated.

"They are not just sitting and hearing a lecture. There are small mini lessons going on," says Jill Thompson, who is the personalized digital learning director for Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (CMS). "Students are working at their own pace so they have to make decisions and using time management skills. Things that they need in the real world are being applied so when they do go off and graduate college career ready they have those skills behind them."

Thompson oversees the transition to digital learning in CMS. "We are seeing growth. We're seeing more growth in math. So we think that's a really positive thing. We are also seeing not just the growth in testing scores but also just the student ownership and engagement, which is really what we want the love of learning."

The digital learning plan is in place at 63 CMS schools, which is nearly one-third of the way to having students in all schools in the district get a digital-age education.

"This is unbelievable. We are really elevating the level of thinking in our classrooms. At the same time students are excited about it. That's what you love to see," says Forest.

Forest said they're expecting all classes to be broadband accessible by this summer.

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