Dr. John Barge, Georgia State School Superintendent

IT Academy is now offered in all Georgia high schools, offering students new access to digital learning and certifications. Our guest blogger, Dr. John Barge, Georgia State School Superintendent, shares the value the program brings to schools and employers across the state.  

Technology revolutionized the business world, but it has also shifted how teachers reach students. As educators, we are no longer the great purveyors of information because students do not need us for facts. Most students have a device in their hand or have access to a device, which means they can get the information they need with the click of a button. But we serve a more important role: we teach students how to search for valid information and transform it into a useable format. We must challenge students to use the information at their fingertips in innovative ways and to help them think critically about that information.

Reading, writing and arithmetic were the basic skills needed by past generations. Today, in addition to these basic skills, students need to be technology literate. Last year, the Georgia Department of Education launched a partnership with Microsoft to offer the Microsoft IT Academy to all Georgia high schools. This collaboration has led to a tremendous amount of technology resources for schools. The e-learning courses, digital textbooks, professional learning opportunities for educators and the developer and designer software are just a few resources that directly impact student learning. We have worked with Microsoft to align curriculum standards in Business and Computer Science classes directly with the Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certification - a global industry recognized credential. However, the Microsoft resources aren’t limited to those courses: any high school student can take part in Microsoft IT Academy.

Students who leave high school with an industry recognized credential have more punch to their resumes. Certification is more than just a skill on a resume – it represents the student has mastered a piece of business technology. In a world of global competition for jobs, earning certification puts our students one step closer to entering post-secondary education or an entry-level job with proven technology skills.

By incorporating the Microsoft IT Academy resources into schools, we are able to meet not only the technology needs of the students, but we are also able to give faculty and staff exposure to the latest technologies and online professional development. Through the individualized opportunities for student learning, teachers can meet students at their skill level and build on prior knowledge and experiences to allow for maximum learning.

For example, in a science course, students can use the developer and designer software to create a mobile app based on the periodic table or build an interactive online game for chemical reactions. They can program a game to balance chemical equations or even design a standards-based website that manages content in a digital format. Integrating technology into every classroom would allow the students to go beyond physically mixing chemicals in a lab to analyzing the content to apply to a variety of technology-rich applications.

We do not want to separate the use of technology from the traditional classroom model. Instead, we want to show students how they can take the knowledge they are learning and infuse technology. Technology used the right way can be a tool that has every student fully engaged in the classroom.

Through the partnership with Microsoft, we are truly helping make education work for all Georgians.

-Dr. John Barge, Georgia State School Superintendent

Read More:

Georgia Statewide Microsoft IT Academy

Georgia Statewide Press Release