Georgia will use the three-year grant to improve the professional learning for school leaders and educators in personalized learning and virtual instruction, expand student connectivity, and improve the infrastructure of — and expand access to — the Georgia Virtual School, a virtual supplemental learning program run by DOE that offers more than 130 courses for students in grades 6-12.
Personalized learning — tailoring students’ educational experience to their talents, interests and needs — has become a priority of DOE. The grant will help Georgia move forward by underwriting training for district and school leaders on the concept and on how to engage parents who can be skeptical, said Caitlin McMunn Dooley, DOE deputy superintendent of teaching and learning.
“Personalized learning is not a bunch of kids hooked into a computer for many hours,” Dooley said. “It could just as easily be learning physics on a baseball field or biology in your backyard. It is about connecting and making relevant what we want kids to learn and connecting that curriculum and those standards to what kids are interested in and what our workforce really demands.”
In the announcement Wednesday of grant recipients, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said, “If we’ve learned anything from this pandemic, it’s that the antiquated one-size-fits-all approach to education is no longer tenable and education going forward must be more adaptable and student-centered.”
“In Georgia, we are committed to building a more personalized and connected educational system, and continuing to leverage virtual learning more effectively, both during the COVID-19 pandemic and long-term,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “These funds will help us build that system and expand personalized learning opportunities for our students.”
On Thursday, Woods joined Gov. Brian Kemp in announcing Georgia will also dedicate $6 million of its CARES Act funding to purchase equipment for local school systems to improve connectivity options for students. The funding will go to buying Wi-Fi transmitters for school buses that can travel where needed and other connectivity solutions.
“While the internet access gap has come into sharper focus during the COVID-19 pandemic, securing connectivity for all of Georgia’s students is a long-term need,” said Kemp in a statement. “This is a major step to address the gap for this school year so that all Georgia’s children have access to learning opportunities in and out of school.”