Digital learning grad requirements sought

/ 30 March 2012 / jennifer

Erin Schmidtke, Session Daily, March 30, 2012 –

The blackboard could be replaced by the Internet in classrooms throughout the state.

Rep. Pam Myhra (R-Burnsville) and Sen. Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) sponsor HF2127SF1528*, which would require students graduating in 2017 and later to receive one digital learning course credit. Though the subject matter could vary from English to economics, the method of instruction would need to be based in technology.

The full House passed the bill by a vote of 96-32 and sent it to the governor. The Senate passed the bill 53-11 March 15.

Myhra said that this bill is needed for Minnesota’s students to learn needed technology skills, which will help them stay competitive in later life. She believes the “blended learning” approach it offers helps students learn about subjects that interest them at an individualized pace.

Some members expressed concern that the bill would create an unfunded mandate for schools. They pushed for a more localized decision-making process for technology education.

Others worried low-income school districts, especially those in rural areas where broadband access is less common, would be unable to meet the standards.

“Really, you’ve got to have a little faith in those school superintendents and elected school board members. They will do this in the rural area. It’s just that they can’t do it as fast and rapidly as the more affluent suburban districts,” said Rep. Tom Anzelc (DFL-Balsam Township).

Proponents refuted this claim, saying that schools have an obligation to provide students with the opportunity to use current technology. Rep. Mark Buesgens (R-Savage) expressed frustration at what he said was a mischaracterization of rural schools.

“They’re not hitching horses to get around and they’re not using abacuses in school — and if they are, it’s because they want to. The notion is that it’s a backwards hick area and that’s simply not true.

– Erin Schmidtke