CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A nonprofit group headed by former Gov. Bob Wise plans to help West Virginia schools conduct a two-year review of classroom technology and digital learning programs -- the first such statewide analysis in the nation.
Wise's organization, the Alliance for Excellent Education, will later help schools develop a comprehensive roadmap for using technology effectively so students become better prepared for college and jobs.
"This isn't just about laptops or online courses," Wise said. "It's about a comprehensive plan and supporting good teachers."
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, who joined Wise at a Wednesday press conference to announce the "Project 24" initiative, said the technology review would bolster West Virginia's new "landmark" education reform package, which Tomblin signed into law last week.
"With today's technological advances, we have the ability to personalize learning and better meet the needs of each individual student," Tomblin said. "I believe Project 24 will help us integrate technology and digital learning into our classrooms by providing innovative ways for our children to learn, in turn helping prepare them for a successful future."
Wise's organization is helping 500 school districts across the nation review classroom technology. West Virginia is the group's only statewide review.
At the project's start, county school board leaders -- superintendents, technology directors and professional development administrators -- will complete a "self-assessment" on how local schools are using technology to help students.
"We have to figure out where we want to go," Tomblin said.
After taking the survey, Wise's group will send a report to each school system with findings and recommendations about improving classroom technology and digital learning.
Also, the Washington, D.C.-based organization will send education technology experts to West Virginia schools to help develop technology plans.
The project won't cost schools a dime. The Alliance for Excellent Education will pay for the program with funds received from various private foundations, Wise said.
Wise said digital learning will play a significant role in preparing students for careers, but school districts must plan properly "to get the best results."
"Gov. Tomblin and the Legislature have just enacted strong education legislation," Wise said. "Developing a comprehensive plan for how technology can support teachers and students is an important first step in reaching the important goals that West Virginia has adopted."Reach Eric Eyre at erice...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4869.