BALTIMORE—A new program will bring important educational technology to all 24 Maryland school systems.
The Hogan Administration has authorized the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) to process $15,000 technology grants for each local school system. The program, a product of Peyton’s Law, which was signed by Governor Larry Hogan in 2017, will provide funds to systems for the purchase of remote classroom technology. The devices will allow students unable to attend class for extended periods to remain connected to their educational programs.
“Education is our top priority, and we believe all students should have access to high-quality instruction and the resources they need to achieve success,” said Governor Hogan. “Through this innovative program, state-of the-art technology will give students facing extended medical challenges the opportunity to remain connected to their school, teachers, and classmates.”
Remote classroom technology gives students with temporary or permanent medical conditions the opportunity to participate in the classroom experience remotely when they may be unable to physically attend school.
“We need our students on track for graduation, and this cutting-edge program provides a pathway for those learners unable to make it to class, said Dr. Karen Salmon, State Superintendent of Schools. “I’ve seen this technology in action, and I’m excited by its potential.”
One type of remote classroom device is a 4-foot propeller robot that can be controlled by the home or hospital-bound student to move around the classroom and school. The robot is equipped with a tablet device that communicates with the student’s tablet. An application allows students to operate independently and participate in group and classroom activities, as well as socialize with students and teachers.
The first student in Maryland to use remote classroom technology is believed to be Peyton Walton, a Montgomery County student who used a telepresence robot while she was receiving radiation therapy to treat a rare type of cancer. While the robot Peyton used was paid for by her classmates and community members, the new grant should allow each county to purchase four robots according to fiscal estimates.
MSDE will release funds to local systems this spring.