Educational Editorial: 4VA supports students in STEM

By Dr. Bill Bosher, NBC12 Educational Specialist

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - While many of Virginia's colleges and universities are using technology in a variety of ways, including robotic surgery, there is a new initiative in Virginia that will give a boost to the classroom.

4VA is using state money and technology from Cisco to link the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, James Madison University and George Mason University for the purpose of increasing the number of students who are interested in STEM…science, technology, engineering, and math.

With $850,000 each, the institutions will use the digital world to bring their campuses closer and leverage the capacity of their faculty. Consistent with the Governor's Commission on Higher Education, this program should increase the number of college degrees and provide more and diverse opportunities for young people who are interested in technical fields.

Perhaps this initiative is more important for its impact on delivery systems than it is on content. This fall young people are arriving on college campuses as freshman, or "first years" in Charlottesville, with more skills and knowledge about the use of digital tools than any of its predecessors.

In many classrooms they will be meet with chalk, texts, and notes that were written on parchment delivered by bright faculty who are still trying to get an ATM to deliver some cash.

The "digital divide" is perhaps a "phenomenon" that describes less the inequity among students and more the "disconnect" between students and faculty.

It is refreshing to see the 4VA initiative for its cooperative charge and innovative approaches. It is perhaps most encouraging to see that we are trying to catch up with the young people for whom we work.

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