by Jim Boyle
Troy Anderson spent six years as an elementary school teacher before shifting his focus as an educator to technology.
It was the third- and fourth-grade students who inspired him to make the transition.
When he got his start in education, the World Wide Web was new on the educational scene. He would use it to find resources, but what he found amazing was when eight -and nine-year-old students would come to him with something they would like to show the whole class. They took to the technology rather easily.
“They inspired me,” he recalled. “I saw it as an opportunity to step up.”
Anderson took his passion for technology and chased down a master’s degree in technology education. With the diploma in hand, he landed a job in the Osseo School District to serve as a technology integration specialist.
Thirteen years later, the Big Lake husband and father of two saw the opening for a new manager of instructional technology in the Elk River Area School District.
The job immediately appealed to him, and he landed it this past summer.
Since then, he has been busy helping increase the use and efficiency of Google Docs, interactive white boards and tablets. He has also been developing the district’s vision for an online learning program.
He is not trying to reinvent the wheel. Collaboration has been and will continue to be a key mode of operation in developing the plan and program, he said.
For anyone wondering why the district is investing in online learning, Anderson asks them to consider the importance of kids leaving the District 728 school system having been exposed to this 21st century technology. National trends suggest it will become increasingly important.
There’s also several advantages, he pointed it out. Online learning creates more flexibility for scheduling and recognizes that students might not need to be in class every hour of the day.
EdTech, home of two technology-focused magazines for IT professionals at both K-12 schools and institutes of higher learning, reported in January that 45,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade took an online course in 2000.
By 2009, more than 3 million K-12 students took an online course.
EdTech predicts that by 2019, 50 percent will be delivered online.
“That’s when my sixth-grade daughter will be a senior in high school,” Anderson said.
The same way students motivated and inspired him to make a career change, Anderson suggests students are the driving force behind the emergence of online learning.
“It is there world,” he said. “This is a way we will meet them in their world, and we will meet their learning styles.”