Equipping our children for success in the 21st Century is a shared quest for every parent. In an illuminating Q&A session, Dr. Carmen Balgobin, Superintendent of Volusia County Schools, delves into the transformative influence of technology in education and offers a glimpse into her forward-thinking vision for the future of learning.

Q1. Dr. Balgobin, let’s start with the big picture. What stands out the most when you boast about Volusia County Schools?

Dr. Balgobin: VCS offers such a diverse array of academic and extracurricular activities. One of our most recent additions is an innovative STEM Bus, a mobile learning lab that promotes 21st-century skills through lessons in robotics, microscopes, 3D printers, plasma balls and more. This bus is a symbol of innovation, collaboration and our dedication to our students’ future. We are currently developing plans to create a second STEM Bus to serve students at the secondary level.

We also continue to expand our elementary language learning programs, which currently include two French Immersion programs and four Dual Language programs teaching Spanish and English to students as young as pre-kindergarten and kindergarten.

I am also especially proud of our continued commitment to Career and Technical Education with nearly 100 programs and academies across our schools, ranging from culinary arts to healthcare to engineering.

Q2. How do you envision technology shaping the future of education in the district, and are there specific tech initiatives you’re excited about?

Dr. Balgobin: Technology is reshaping education, and in Volusia County Schools, its impact will be even more profound following the recent achievement of a one-to-one ratio of devices to students in the past few years. Our goal in the next few years is to fine-tune our teaching and learning applications to those that have the most impact on educational outcomes and to train our staff to use those applications to the maximum benefit of students.

Q3. In which areas do you plan to leverage technology for student performance, including the incorporation of AI?

Dr. Balgobin: We aim to enhance student performance through technology in the following ways:

  • AI-powered platforms will personalize learning to individual student’s strengths and weaknesses by adjusting difficulty and presenting content in different formats. Data will also allow educators to provide targeted interventions and support.

  • Virtual Reality will provide realistic experiences for students to engage with historical events or scientific experiments, while Augmented Reality will overlay digital information onto physical objects, enhancing engagement and understanding. Game-based learning will motivate students and reinforce concepts through points, leaderboards and interactive challenges.

  • AI-powered translation tools will break down language barriers, ensuring all students have access to educational resources. Advancements in voice recognition, text-to-speech and other tools will cater to students with diverse learning needs. Flexible online courses and blended learning models will expand access to education for geographically dispersed students or those with unique circumstances.

Q4. What role do extracurricular activities and the arts play in a well-rounded education, and are there plans to expand these opportunities?

Dr. Balgobin: Electives and special area classes play a pivotal role in fostering a well-rounded education, providing students with invaluable opportunities for enhanced creative and cultural development. Beyond traditional academics, these co-curricular activities cultivate critical thinking, collaboration, leadership and a sense of belonging and identity, developing a diverse skill set in students that is essential for success in today’s world. From continuing our vast array of course offerings to forging partnerships with local community institutions, our goal is to provide a dynamic platform that nurtures talents, encourages exploration and fosters a sense of creativity, empowering every student to excel in their educational journey.