Legg: Teacher training needs to keep up with digital transformation

Editor’s note: In the past two legislative sessions, Florida Sen. John Legg, R-Trinity, has pushed for new digital learning funding and policies. As more students head back to school on Monday, the Senate Education Committee chairman says teacher training and professional development need to keep up with the changes happening elsewhere in society.

Sen. John Legg
Sen. John Legg

Today’s kindergarteners are unlike any generation before them. They are true Digital Natives, never knowing a world without tablets and wireless internet access. Digital Natives can dream bigger and brighter, due to advancements everywhere being made daily.

Digital Natives not only require, but demand, merging technology with learning. Portals of knowledge and exploration have literally been at their fingertips their entire lives; the use of devices and apps is instinctual. Our entire education system faces the challenge of empowering students for success, instead of powering down to an era before their birth.

Blending education with technology innovation is more than simply shifting content from paper to the digital domain—we must envision how our students will live, work, and play in our technology-dependent global economy. Recognizing this critical need, the State of Florida has committed, over the past two years, $100 million to improving access to technology in schools. This is only the beginning; we need investments in both infrastructure and digital technology professional development.

Classrooms require the necessary tools, and educators need access to professional development that embraces digital learning. Digital skills, including coding, industry certifications in technology, and computer literacy, need to be reflected in our education methods and practices. Collaboration on technology integration best practices among current educators should help lay the foundation for how college and university education programs develop future teachers.

Today’s educators, exploring teaching and learning with digital innovation in their classrooms, have an opportunity to serve as pioneers in evolving their profession. NHL Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky, said correctly, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” Education should be no different.