North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory has signed into law a pair of bills designed to expand the use of educational technology—and boost teachers' ability to use digital tools wisely.
One of the pieces of legislation, House Bill 44, sets an overall goal to have the state shift to funding digital textbooks, and away from the paperbound variety, by 2017.
The other measure, House Bill 23, is more detailed and specific. It directs North Carolina's state board of education to create and oversee the creation of new "digital teaching and learning standards" for educators and administrators.
The language of the legislation calls on the state board, in cooperation with local boards of education, to make familiarity with technology in teaching and learning a condition of the renewal of teacher licenses. All aspiring teachers would be required to "demonstrate competencies in using digital and other instructional technologies to provide high-quality, integrated digital teaching and learning to all students."
"It all boils down to a simple concept—the kids seem to know more about this stuff than the teachers," meaning technology, state Rep. D. Craig Horn, a Republican and a sponsor of the bills, told Education Week. "The goal of this is to turn that around."
The two measures are part of a broader legislative effort to expand schools' use of, and access to, effective educational technology, Horn said. Two additional measures, one of them aimed at increasing Internet connectivity in schools and communities, and the other aimed at allowing local communities to use lottery funds to support digital programs, are moving through the statehouse, he said.
Teachers' and administrators' lack of familiarity and confidence with digital technology has been a source of concern among digital advocates and others for years.
The worry is that the overall lack of tech know-how among the adults in school buildings impedes efforts to use technology in meaningful and academically beneficial ways. Teachers in training, perhaps not surprisingly, tend to be more familiar with online resources and social media than educators who are already in the classroom, a recent survey found.