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New Alliance Launches Drivefor More Women in IT

Girls are scarce in computer science classes,but a new coalition hopes to reverse that trend.

In Brief MORE THAN 1 MILLION computer-relatedjobs are going to be created by the year 2014,according to the US Department of Labor. But data from the NationalCenter for Women & Information Technology shows an 80 percent declinein the number of female first-year college studentswho chose to major in computer sciencebetween 1996 and 2004.

Members of the newly forged K-12 Alliance are concerned about that sharp slide. Having debuted at the National Educational Computing Conference in June, the coalition of 19 organizations is committed to advancing the quality of computer training in K-12 classrooms, and raising awareness of the correlation between computer literacy and career success. To reach girls in particular, the group will share the stories of women in the IT field with students. Also, the alliance will strive to identify and remove the obstacles that have led to the discouraging labor statistics, which show that women make up only 26 percent of IT workers in the country today.

"In the next seven years, women will account for more than half of the nation's workforce," says NCWIT co-founder Lucy Sanders. "Women can, and must, play a more significant role in building an innovative and technically trained workforce. If US companies wish to maintain their competitive advantage in IT-related fields, they cannot afford to miss out on the input of half the population."

The K-12 Alliance's first project is the release of "Gotta Have IT," a resource kit for teachers that includes computing and career information, as well as promotional print and digital media. Part of the resource's appeal is its visual illustrations of careers that are open to those who study IT-related subjects.

"We want girls to be more confident, aware, and interested in computing, but even more so, we want girls to understand that a background in computer science is critical for 21st-century careers and for life in general," says K-12 Alliance Co- Chair Chris Stephenson, who is also executive director of the Computer Science Teachers Association. To get the message out, the alliance is creating a networking system among the member organizations, educators, and parents.

"It is everyone's role to reach out to young women to build awareness and inspire an interest in computing," says Ruthe Farmer, alliance co-chair, and technology and engineering education program manager for the Girl Scouts of the USA. "It is imperative that we begin to speak to girls at a young age about the potential they hold to become future innovators and leaders. Women bring different life experiences and perspectives to the innovation process, and this diversity is what leads to the design of products and services that can benefit a broader range of people."

ED TECH ADOPTION IN 7 EASY STEPS

JUST AS A TOOL is only as goodas the craftsman wielding it, educationtechnology only proves itsvalue when it is sensibly selectedand competently deployed.

To assist schools throughout the process of adopting technology, the education division of the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) has released its new Software Implementation Toolkit for Educators.

The authors boil down the principles of acquiring ed tech into seven components: determination of objectives and stakeholder buy-in; integration planning; logistics planning; delivery and installation of software; professional development; implementation monitoring and software support; and software program evaluation. Tips are organized according to each stage, and are supplemented by sample scenarios and worksheets.

Checklists throughout cover such matters as steps to take during product evaluations, and points for educators to consider when forming relationships with vendors. Also, call-outs provide advice at a glance; for example: "A critical first step in logistics planning is the appointment of a strong coordinator from the institution who will have the overall responsibility and authority to carry out and monitor the implementation."

The publication's appendix is also a rich resource, beginning with a timeline model and including links to related online material. The toolkit is available for free here.

:: Industry News

STUDENTS REACH OUT TO AFRICABY VIDEO. Communication and collaborationtechnology provider Polycom has joined forceswith the nonprofit Global NomadsGroup on Project Uganda.A distance learning program, ProjectUganda connects students in 25schools throughout the United States,Canada, and the United Kingdom withtheir peers in Uganda via a series ofvideo-conferences.

Through these meetings, the organizers hope to raise awareness of world issues and give students in developed nations a way to help address problems outside their own borders. For example, one of the challenges of the program is for young people to raise funds to build a biology lab for Ugandan youth.

:: Partnerships

DELL AND INTEL HOOK UP THE NEWRON CLARK ACADEMY. The Ron ClarkAcademy, a school for inner-city fifththrougheighth-grade students inAtlanta, will open this fall with the latesteducation technology, thanks toDell and Intel.

Through Dell School Architecture, an IT infrastructure framework that helps K-12 customers manage complex technology challenges, Dell and Intel team members worked with school administrators and educators to develop a comprehensive technology plan for the academy.

The two companies also set up the school with server and storage devices, as well as Dell Latitude laptops with Intel Centrino Duo processor technology for students, faculty, and administrative staff. Plus, each classroom was given Dell Intelligent Classroom technology, including interactive whiteboards; polling devices; projectors; digital cameras; audio/video equipment provided by Dell, Intel, and others; and networked Dell color laser printers.

:: People

KIMBALL AND MCMULLAN JOIN T.H.E. JOURNAL'S EDITORIAL BOARD.Chip Kimball, formerly chief technologyofficer and now superintendent of Lake Washington School District (WA), has joined T.H.E. Journal's editorialboard. Kimball's work in LakeWashington has resulted in one of themost comprehensive and effective educationaltechnology implementations inthe country. He also has been instrumentalin developing a methodologyfor technology planning and a comprehensivetool for technical support. Inaddition to being featured as a conferencespeaker, Kimball recently servedas an education strategist for the PaulG. Allen Family Foundation.

Ann McMullan also joins the editorial board with substantial education and technology experience. McMullan is executive director of educational technology at Klein Independent School District (TX). With 18 years of teaching history under her belt, McMullan took on the challenge of revamping ed tech in her district—from helping to form state standards for integrating technology skills into K-8 curriculum, to showing other teachers how to reap the greatest benefits from techoriented classrooms. She also has served as co-chair of the Texas Educational Technology Advisory Committee. McMullan was featured in "Vision Quest" in our March issue.

ROH ACCEPTS SCHOOL CIO OF THE YEAR AWARD. The Consortium for School Networking presented Derek Roh, director of IT services for Baldwin County Public Schools in Loxley, AL, with the David T. Kearns Public School CIO of the Year Award during the EduStat Summit in June for his systematic use of information technology to accomplish the core missions of his school district.

This article originally appeared in the 08/01/2007 issue of THE Journal.

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