Technology helps Alabama lead the way in education

Governor Bob Riley spoke with leaders of 85 high schools on Wednesday about the new learning opportunities their students will have when their schools receive video conferencing capabilities in January.

Each of the 85 high schools is receiving $85,000 to fund an ACCESS Distance Learning classroom.  ACCESS stands for Alabama Connecting Classrooms, Educators and Students Statewide.  Governor Riley first proposed the ACCESS program during his State of the State Address in 2005.  With it, classrooms can be linked online and through interactive video conferencing technology.  Earlier this year, the Governor and State School Superintendent Joe Morton announced that all high schools in Alabama will have ACCESS Distance Learning by the time school begins in August 2009.

Governor Riley, who grew up and raised his family in rural Clay County, said distance learning levels the playing field for students who attend school in rural areas.  Sometimes course offerings are more limited in rural schools than in metropolitan area schools.

"Students in our rural communities are just as bright and just as capable as any others.  They deserve as much opportunity as other children in this state," Governor Riley said.  "With ACCESS, every high school will be able to provide more learning opportunities than ever before.  Alabama will be the first state in the nation to have online learning and video conferencing in every high school."

A wide range of courses are available to ACCESS schools, including foreign languages and advanced level courses in math, English, social studies and science.

Currently, 181 schools already have ACCESS Distance Learning.  All 371 high schools in the state will start school in August 2009 with ACCESS.