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Education and technology 'hold the key' to prosperity in Carroll County

Sara Szymanski, adult services supervisor at the Mt. Airy branch of the Carroll County Public Library, helps Carlos Reyes, 5, of Damascus, play Battleship at a 90s party of retro games and crafts at the library on Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017.
Sara Szymanski, adult services supervisor at the Mt. Airy branch of the Carroll County Public Library, helps Carlos Reyes, 5, of Damascus, play Battleship at a 90s party of retro games and crafts at the library on Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017. (Alan White / For Carroll County Times)

As Carroll County thinks about what its residents’ needs will be in the future, technology and education will be of growing importance, especially in relation to one another, according to a study from the Long Term Advisory Council.

The interweaving of the two fields is one of the points retired Carroll County Public Library Executive Director Lynn Wheeler made during her presentation to the Board of County Commissioners this November, but to do so will require money.

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With 2019 on the horizon, some Carroll County community leaders have been looking much further ahead than the new year, with eyes down the road three decades.

“Education and technology hold the key to national strength and prosperity,” Wheeler said, “but at a cost.

“Global expenditure on education has exceeded $5 trillion and is expected to grow at 8 percent each year, reaching $8.1 trillion by 2020,” she said.

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And the need for up-to-date and cutting-edge technology in education will be a determining factor in “have” versus “have-not” communities.

Technology will also be crucial in lifelong education, keeping people of all ages in a learning state from birth until death, she said.

“Technology education also requires faculty that is up-to-speed on technology,” said Wheeler. “This is a challenge, keeping professional staff — whether they’re at the K-12, community college, the library, wherever they may be. That is a huge challenge that is facing the work force and employers — trying to keep people up-to-speed and giving them the opportunity to learn and move forward.

The Board of Carroll County Commissioners approved the use of the Carroll County Public Library system's $150,000 budget savings for its Exploration Commons at 50 East makerspace project at its Nov. 8, 2018 meeting.

“How you continue to keep current is huge,” she said. “There was a time when you graduated from high school or college and you had everything you needed for life, but that is no longer the case.”

The former CCPL director also said graduation requirements will include more emphasis on STEM, and obtaining knowledge through technological means — like through online courses and mobile applications.

“The United States is in the midst of a massive effort to make high-speed internet and free online teaching available,” Wheeler said. “That's an opportunity for Carroll County because Carroll County is way ahead of the pack having installed fiber in Westminster.

“We should be very proud of what we’ve done in this community and build on that.”

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