In the 19th century, students in West Virginia schools learned to read, write and do ‘rithmetic using a piece of chalk on a slate board in the school house.
In the 20th century, loose leaf paper and pencil that could be used in class or home was the widely available technology.
In the 21st century, Raleigh County schools are leading the way in West Virginia with a pilot project using electronic tablets -- namely iPads -- for use at school and at home, allowing students and teachers to collaborate using software programs such a FaceTime.
It’s all part of the evolution of education that, done correctly, can help West Virginia students catch up and even surpass their peers across the nation and the globe.
“We want to be positioned as a leader,” said Sterling Beane, chief technology officer for the state Department of Education, which is watching Raleigh County’s pilot program with interest.
“We want access to the finest technology in our schools so people will want to come to West Virginia, and students who go through the school system are prepared to go into the world because they have had access throughout their education.”
To use a computer term, the digital upgrade at all 28 Raleigh County schools has rebooted education, helping teachers who previously had to share time with computers. Beckley-Stratton Middle School Principal Rachel Pauley told the Daily Mail’s Education Reporter Samuel Speciale that the whole concept of education has changed now that students, teachers and administrators have access to resources they didn’t have before.
The ultimate goal is to implement the tablet program statewide, but the Department of Education was wise enough to begin the test in one county.
“There’s a lot of ground to cover to make a statewide implementation successful, but that is our ultimate goal,” the DOE’s Beane said. “It requires more than technology though; it takes policy-making as well.”
With the Recht decision of the 1980s and the state Legislature placing too many burdens on the school system, the state’s education system needs a big boost.
Raleigh County is giving it a good start with the tablet pilot project. Here’s hoping the lessons from the Raleigh County pilot initiate educational improvements, as well as positive change in public education across the state.