FedEx Technology Camp - Preparing Students for the Next Generation

##AUTHORSPLIT##<--->

Where are teachers in the educational technology landscape? I ask myself this question each summer when I venture out in the world for two months, away from my job as Coordinator of Academic Technology for a K-12 campus. With 14 years of experience in educational technology, this gift of time is an opportunity for personal reflection and professional development. I take advantage of it as best I can, dreaming, or "visioning," as I prefer to call it.

This past summer I accepted the position of teacher intern at FedEx World Tech Center in Collierville, Tenn. Because of my background in developing technology camps for children, I was asked to create and implement a pilot program, FedEx Technology Camp. This consisted of free, one-day camps for middle school students throughout the country. The locations included Memphis, Orlando, Dallas, and Colorado Springs.

This opportunity led me to conclusions about our responsibilities as educators and about the importance of this kind of technology education. The process involved research, conversations and experience with a diverse group of middle school children in each of the participating communities. The things I learned were both rewarding and disappointing. For me, the research confirmed fears about what teachers may or may not be doing, and what students may or may not be learning about technology in the educational setting. Now I wonder, where do we go from here? The purpose of this article is to tell my story, to stress the importance of partnerships between businesses and schools for students in the K-12 world, to praise the commitment of businesses supporting local communities, and to inspire educational professionals to take an active leadership role in creating similar opportunities for children and for themselves.

 

The Need for Student Technology Training

According to FedEx and ech'ed in Callaway's article "Can We Solve the Skills Crisis?" (1999), there is an extreme shortage of qualified applicants for the kinds of jobs available in today's information technology industry. The situation is one that is growing as technologies improve and our dependence on them increases. An article titled "The Shortage of Information Technology Skills" states that "The rapid advance of technology, the rise of the Internet and the overall growth of the economy has created severe problems for companies seeking skilled information technology (IT) workers. The Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) conducted an extensive study of large and mid-size IT and non-IT companies throughout the United States. They found that there are about 2 million white-collar IT workers in the United States, including programmers, network specialists, and others, with approximately 190,000 unfilled IT positions nationwide. That means there is roughly one vacancy for every 10 IT employees. The demand for such workers is projected to double in the next five years, says Tony Vickers, ITAA's executive director" (2000).

To address this concern, educational professionals are being asked to consider this shortage as they develop educational technology and computer science curricula for high school students. As one solution to this problem, a task force among representatives of FedEx, along with Netscape Communications Corp., Informix Software, Inc., Sun Microsystems, Hewlett-Packard, Sybase, Inc., and The University of Memphis, developed The Internet Curriculum Consortium, which can be viewed at www.fedex.com/us/careers/white
paper.html.

Although the consortium curriculum published on the Internet was designed for higher education students, adaptations can be made for those in middle and high school settings. Learning takes place through distance education, onsite training, and outsource personnel. Becoming prepared to enter the world of Information Technology requires interest in the field, as well as an open mind for training and development. The two goals of the Technology Camp pilot program were to give back to the community and to prepare youth for an e-future. FedEx helped to fulfill these goals by hosting the free one-day camp that included a computer and Internet skills-building curriculum.

Laying the Groundwork

Initially, the camp was going to be a Memphis-based experience that would take place a number of times. We considered the possibility of adding more facilitators. Local meetings were held regularly, camp goals quickly expanded to include the other locations, and the meetings became teleconferences. The dynamic team in the Global Recruitment division of FedEx showed strong support as plans were made.

Under the guidance of the manager and the leadership of a recruiter, logistics became a non-issue for me. I focused on the curriculum and instruction for this project; the other teacher intern helped facilitate the camp experience by handling the paperwork, continuing to test the technology-based curriculum, editing, making suggestions, assisting the students, and providing tremendous support. Working with all those involved was an enriching team experience for me.

Through internal research, 15 area schools from which to draw the pool of students were demographically selected from the Memphis area. Schools chosen to participate included five in the city, five in the county, and five independent schools. The other cities used similar criteria for their selection process. A breakfast presentation and meeting were planned for the 15 local principals of those schools in order to explain the program and answer any relevant questions. The participating cities held a similar breakfast meeting. Administrators, faculty members, and technology coordinators had the responsibility of nominating three middle school students and one alternate. Our request, as educators, was to ensure that the selections were based on student interest in technology, or insight that this opportunity would be a rewarding experience for the selected students.

Families received nomination letters in packets introducing FedEx Technology Camp. Only three of the nominated students chose not to attend, due to alternative summer commitments. After developing communication with the prospective campers, we sent each one a FedEx Technology Skills Assessment Survey and further details of camp plans.

I was haunted by a doubtful colleague who wondered, "Is a camp that focuses on technology skills really necessary for students in the year 2000? Aren't we past that?" After all, according to Green (2000), "We are now roughly two decades into the so-called technology revolution in education." I realized that the answer to these essential questions would be evident in the survey results. Based on my experience as a technology teacher, an inventory is essential to predict which students will need assistance and which students will need to be challenged. The information is also helpful in developing curriculum. This inventory was designed as a Likert scale (31 items with a range of 1-4) and was based on a similar format developed by a colleague. I decided that the first group of questions would give students a comfort level with the format of the questionnaire. I limited the questions to a single page of one-line questions divided into categories, realizing that too many technical questions may seem intimidating. Based on the questionnaire answers from each city's group of students, I was able to identify the skills they needed to develop during camp.

 

Putting It All Together

The fun began as I thought about the curriculum for the camp. I spent several weeks poring over endless possibilities, aware of the limitations of time and space. Isearched a variety of related topics on the Internet and read published articles such as "Summer Computer Camps – Developing Appropriate Educational Goals" by Bos and Wisnudel (1996). Unlike other technology camps that I located, these campers ultimately had only one day, specifically part of one day, to develop skills through engaging activities. My role was to make that event meaningful and to provide beneficial skill-building opportunities.

Developing the curriculum was a stimulating responsibility. I designed an Internet Scavenger Hunt, including 15 topics consisting of three questions. Campers used a variety of techniques to work in pairs or teams. Throughout the hunt, they learned about the weather in the participating cities, animal facts, information about silent movies, pizza trivia, and more. For some, it was a new experience to see a QuickTime video as one of the required topics. Prizes and giveaways, sponsored by Bytes of Learning (www.bytesoflearning.com) and Tech4Learning (www.tech4learning.com), were awarded to the team that got the most correct answers within the time limits. It was gratifying to observe how interested and involved each camper was throughout the discussion of the answers. Each camper was provided a list of the visited Web sites to use in the future.

The day's agenda was complete with a variety of activities, beginning with a breakfast for everyone and, for the parents, an informative meeting and tour of the facility. Campers began their day with the Internet Scavenger Hunt. Subsequent camp activities included Web site creation, outdoor games, lunch, and a presentation about an Internet Science and Technology Fair hosted by the University of Central Florida and sponsored by FedEx.

I created a general Technology Camp Web site for the FedEx Intranet. This site features an overview with the objectives of the camp from an educator's perspective. The objectives include categories like Technical, Internet, and Web Site Development. The site also features a Scavenger Hunt, Agenda, and a Web site help file offering tips, tricks, and the related image gallery, as well as a participants' page with a list of all campers. Each camper's site is linked to his or her name.

Other features of the participants' page are links to each camper's school Web site and links to the official state sites where each FedEx Technology Camp was held. Because of time constraints, a set of original Web site templates was provided to the campers. They used Netscape Composer to edit and customize the templates. Providing templates stimulated ideas and encouraged creativity more quickly than if they had started from scratch. It also enabled them to go over necessary skills, such as how to create a hyperlink, in a consistent manner before working on their own. I made the decision to use Netscape Composer to show the campers that they could do Web editing without spending a great deal of money on a program designed specifically for that purpose.

The campers' sites are linked to the main site and include several files, each one representing a separate area of interest. Campers entered information about their families, pets, interests and more. We used a digital camera to take photos of the day's activities and then uploaded the images to their image directory. Those who had alternative suggestions were encouraged to develop their ideas. All involved improved their editing skills (changing fonts, colors, styles), inserted images from clipart or created original images, created and tested hyperlinks, and changed background colors. In addition, they inserted things like targets, rules, bullets and other standard Web features. The absence of experience or knowledge of related terminology and many of these skills was alarming. However, as the day progressed, campers remained engaged and the quality of the exuberant Web sites was apparent.

Several Internet issues provided stimulating discussions during the day. One of these issues was Internet safety. To address this concern from the corporation's standpoint, the site was hosted on the FedEx Intranet, since its firewall prevents questionable sites from being accessed. The campers and I explained the roles and the differences between the Internet and an Intranet. This conversation led to a discussion of personal safety on the Internet, including what we could and could not include on our Web sites, and some guidelines about using chat rooms when campers, outside of this one-day experience, are online. Another concern that was addressed is copyright laws, including the concept of copyright friendly images. We discussed that although it is easy to take things from the Internet, doing so d'es not make it lawful or ethical. To enhance the Web sites, copyright friendly images were provided for this learning experience. The Image Gallery included a variety of images divided into categories.

 

Looking Back

The results of the skill assessments were consistent. My experience observing and teaching these students for one day confirmed the findings. Most revealing is the fact that students feel competent in word processing. Beyond that, skills range from 1-4 (low to high) in general skills, which include restarting a computer, emptying the Recycle Bin, and deleting a file. It was disappointing to learn how few students possessed skills like utilizing the Find feature on a computer. Few students had participated in Web site development and, of those who are doing it in school, 100% reported that their experience was with the school's technology teacher, not in a classroom or subject-based learning experience.

Although some claimed to be knowledgeable in searching on the Internet, few knew about such basic browser features as bookmarks and hyperlinks. Students were most familiar with America Online and Instant Messenger, because teenagers today have strong skills when it comes to involvement in chat rooms.

Ultimately, what did those who participated gain? Initial goals for the students included increased self-confidence, heightened curiosity, and fun. Others included the hope that instructional and learning strategies were modeled in the process. Awareness of and an interest in community developed, and lasting friendships may follow. More than anything, we hope that the children had a positive, memorable experience. To add to their memories, at the end of the summer, each participant received their work on a floppy disk. They also received a CD that has the complete Web site saved as a read-only PDF (portable document file) so that he or she can access the information that was developed at camp.

Unanticipated successes included the following: In the area of our evaluation form where we asked, "What was the best part of FedEx Technology Camp?" three campers responded, "the kind of help we received." One camper e-mailed us the day after camp to thank us and to tell us that she was applying her new knowledge to a different assignment. In one camper's Web page about his community, he commented, "Today, this is my community." What more could we hope for?

What happened this summer when I was "visioning"? As an educator, I learned more about participating on a team. I expanded my teaching strategies, and I found that each camp day was a new experience, since I was working with a unique group of students. My professional dreams grew outside the box. I hope that FedEx decides to expand this experience in the future to include more locations worldwide. It is my hope that educational technology leaders will be inspired to create a business-school partnership to broaden and realize their own professional goals.

 

Linda Kantor Goodwin has a Master's degree in Technology in Education from Rosemont College. This Apple Distinguished Educator is working toward a doctorate from Pepperdine University's Graduate Studies Program in Education and is dedicated to providing vision for St. Mary's Episcopal School in Memphis, Tenn. As Coordinator of Academic Technology, Linda has been involved in the school's technology education program since its infancy. As Chair of the Computer Science Department, Linda establishes innovative staff development programs, such as Computer U, which received recognition through the ComputerWorld Smithsonian Awards Program last spring, negotiates with hardware and software companies to pilot new trends, and assists faculty and students. She is an author, consultant, speaker, Web site designer, and instructional designer.

 

E-mail: lindagoodwin@earthlink.net

 

 

 

 

References

 

Bos, Nathan and Michele Wisnudel. 1996. "Summer Computer Camps – Developing Appropriate Educational Goals." Learning and Leading with Technology, April 1996. 6-9.

 

Callaway, Erin. 1999. "Can We Solve the Skills Crisis?" Managing Automation, March 2000. 38-45.

 

Green, Kenneth C. 2000. "The Real IT Challenge: People, Not Products." Converge, January 2000. 76-77.

 

"The Shortage of Information Technology Skills." 2000. Available online: www.fedex.com/us/careers/white
paper.html
.

Where are teachers in the educational technology landscape? I ask myself this question each summer when I venture out in the world for two months, away from my job as Coordinator of Academic Technology for a K-12 campus. With 14 years of experience in educational technology, this gift of time is an opportunity for personal reflection and professional development. I take advantage of it as best I can, dreaming, or "visioning," as I prefer to call it.

This past summer I accepted the position of teacher intern at FedEx World Tech Center in Collierville, Tenn. Because of my background in developing technology camps for children, I was asked to create and implement a pilot program, FedEx Technology Camp. This consisted of free, one-day camps for middle school students throughout the country. The locations included Memphis, Orlando, Dallas, and Colorado Springs.

This opportunity led me to conclusions about our responsibilities as educators and about the importance of this kind of technology education. The process involved research, conversations and experience with a diverse group of middle school children in each of the participating communities. The things I learned were both rewarding and disappointing. For me, the research confirmed fears about what teachers may or may not be doing, and what students may or may not be learning about technology in the educational setting. Now I wonder, where do we go from here? The purpose of this article is to tell my story, to stress the importance of partnerships between businesses and schools for students in the K-12 world, to praise the commitment of businesses supporting local communities, and to inspire educational professionals to take an active leadership role in creating similar opportunities for children and for themselves.

 

X@XOpenTag000The Need for Student Technology Training

X@XCloseTag000According to FedEx and ech'ed in Callaway's article "Can We Solve the Skills Crisis?" (1999), there is an extreme shortage of qualified applicants for the kinds of jobs available in today's information technology industry. The situation is one that is growing as technologies improve and our dependence on them increases. An article titled "The Shortage of Information Technology Skills" states that "The rapid advance of technology, the rise of the Internet and the overall growth of the economy has created severe problems for companies seeking skilled information technology (IT) workers. The Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) conducted an extensive study of large and mid-size IT and non-IT companies throughout the United States. They found that there are about 2 million white-collar IT workers in the United States, including programmers, network specialists, and others, with approximately 190,000 unfilled IT positions nationwide. That means there is roughly one vacancy for every 10 IT employees. The demand for such workers is projected to double in the next five years, says Tony Vickers, ITAA's executive director" (2000).

To address this concern, educational professionals are being asked to consider this shortage as they develop educational technology and computer science curricula for high school students. As one solution to this problem, a task force among representatives of FedEx, along with Netscape Communications Corp., Informix Software, Inc., Sun Microsystems, Hewlett-Packard, Sybase, Inc., and The University of Memphis, developed The Internet Curriculum Consortium, which can be viewed at www.fedex.com/us/careers/white
paper.html.

Although the consortium curriculum published on the Internet was designed for higher education students, adaptations can be made for those in middle and high school settings. Learning takes place through distance education, onsite training, and outsource personnel. Becoming prepared to enter the world of Information Technology requires interest in the field, as well as an open mind for training and development. The two goals of the Technology Camp pilot program were to give back to the community and to prepare youth for an e-future. FedEx helped to fulfill these goals by hosting the free one-day camp that included a computer and Internet skills-building curriculum.

X@XOpenTag001Laying the Groundwork

X@XCloseTag001Initially, the camp was going to be a Memphis-based experience that would take place a number of times. We considered the possibility of adding more facilitators. Local meetings were held regularly, camp goals quickly expanded to include the other locations, and the meetings became teleconferences. The dynamic team in the Global Recruitment division of FedEx showed strong support as plans were made.

Under the guidance of the manager and the leadership of a recruiter, logistics became a non-issue for me. I focused on the curriculum and instruction for this project; the other teacher intern helped facilitate the camp experience by handling the paperwork, continuing to test the technology-based curriculum, editing, making suggestions, assisting the students, and providing tremendous support. Working with all those involved was an enriching team experience for me.

Through internal research, 15 area schools from which to draw the pool of students were demographically selected from the Memphis area. Schools chosen to participate included five in the city, five in the county, and five independent schools. The other cities used similar criteria for their selection process. A breakfast presentation and meeting were planned for the 15 local principals of those schools in order to explain the program and answer any relevant questions. The participating cities held a similar breakfast meeting. Administrators, faculty members, and technology coordinators had the responsibility of nominating three middle school students and one alternate. Our request, as educators, was to ensure that the selections were based on student interest in technology, or insight that this opportunity would be a rewarding experience for the selected students.

Families received nomination letters in packets introducing FedEx Technology Camp. Only three of the nominated students chose not to attend, due to alternative summer commitments. After developing communication with the prospective campers, we sent each one a FedEx Technology Skills Assessment Survey and further details of camp plans.

I was haunted by a doubtful colleague who wondered, "Is a camp that focuses on technology skills really necessary for students in the year 2000? Aren't we past that?" After all, according to Green (2000), "We are now roughly two decades into the so-called technology revolution in education." I realized that the answer to these essential questions would be evident in the survey results. Based on my experience as a technology teacher, an inventory is essential to predict which students will need assistance and which students will need to be challenged. The information is also helpful in developing curriculum. This inventory was designed as a Likert scale (31 items with a range of 1-4) and was based on a similar format developed by a colleague. I decided that the first group of questions would give students a comfort level with the format of the questionnaire. I limited the questions to a single page of one-line questions divided into categories, realizing that too many technical questions may seem intimidating. Based on the questionnaire answers from each city's group of students, I was able to identify the skills they needed to develop during camp.

 

Putting It All Together

The fun began as I thought about the curriculum for the camp. I spent several weeks poring over endless possibilities, aware of the limitations of time and space. Isearched a variety of related topics on the Internet and read published articles such as "Summer Computer Camps – Developing Appropriate Educational Goals" by Bos and Wisnudel (1996). Unlike other technology camps that I located, these campers ultimately had only one day, specifically part of one day, to develop skills through engaging activities. My role was to make that event meaningful and to provide beneficial skill-building opportunities.

Developing the curriculum was a stimulating responsibility. I designed an Internet Scavenger Hunt, including 15 topics consisting of three questions. Campers used a variety of techniques to work in pairs or teams. Throughout the hunt, they learned about the weather in the participating cities, animal facts, information about silent movies, pizza trivia, and more. For some, it was a new experience to see a QuickTime video as one of the required topics. Prizes and giveaways, sponsored by Bytes of Learning (www.bytesoflearning.com) and Tech4Learning (www.tech4learning.com), were awarded to the team that got the most correct answers within the time limits. It was gratifying to observe how interested and involved each camper was throughout the discussion of the answers. Each camper was provided a list of the visited Web sites to use in the future.

The day's agenda was complete with a variety of activities, beginning with a breakfast for everyone and, for the parents, an informative meeting and tour of the facility. Campers began their day with the Internet Scavenger Hunt. Subsequent camp activities included Web site creation, outdoor games, lunch, and a presentation about an Internet Science and Technology Fair hosted by the University of Central Florida and sponsored by FedEx.

I created a general Technology Camp Web site for the FedEx Intranet. This site features an overview with the objectives of the camp from an educator's perspective. The objectives include categories like Technical, Internet, and Web Site Development. The site also features a Scavenger Hunt, Agenda, and a Web site help file offering tips, tricks, and the related image gallery, as well as a participants' page with a list of all campers. Each camper's site is linked to his or her name.

Other features of the participants' page are links to each camper's school Web site and links to the official state sites where each FedEx Technology Camp was held. Because of time constraints, a set of original Web site templates was provided to the campers. They used Netscape Composer to edit and customize the templates. Providing templates stimulated ideas and encouraged creativity more quickly than if they had started from scratch. It also enabled them to go over necessary skills, such as how to create a hyperlink, in a consistent manner before working on their own. I made the decision to use Netscape Composer to show the campers that they could do Web editing without spending a great deal of money on a program designed specifically for that purpose.

The campers' sites are linked to the main site and include several files, each one representing a separate area of interest. Campers entered information about their families, pets, interests and more. We used a digital camera to take photos of the day's activities and then uploaded the images to their image directory. Those who had alternative suggestions were encouraged to develop their ideas. All involved improved their editing skills (changing fonts, colors, styles), inserted images from clipart or created original images, created and tested hyperlinks, and changed background colors. In addition, they inserted things like targets, rules, bullets and other standard Web features. The absence of experience or knowledge of related terminology and many of these skills was alarming. However, as the day progressed, campers remained engaged and the quality of the exuberant Web sites was apparent.

Several Internet issues provided stimulating discussions during the day. One of these issues was Internet safety. To address this concern from the corporation's standpoint, the site was hosted on the FedEx Intranet, since its firewall prevents questionable sites from being accessed. The campers and I explained the roles and the differences between the Internet and an Intranet. This conversation led to a discussion of personal safety on the Internet, including what we could and could not include on our Web sites, and some guidelines about using chat rooms when campers, outside of this one-day experience, are online. Another concern that was addressed is copyright laws, including the concept of copyright friendly images. We discussed that although it is easy to take things from the Internet, doing so d'es not make it lawful or ethical. To enhance the Web sites, copyright friendly images were provided for this learning experience. The Image Gallery included a variety of images divided into categories.

 

Looking Back

The results of the skill assessments were consistent. My experience observing and teaching these students for one day confirmed the findings. Most revealing is the fact that students feel competent in word processing. Beyond that, skills range from 1-4 (low to high) in general skills, which include restarting a computer, emptying the Recycle Bin, and deleting a file. It was disappointing to learn how few students possessed skills like utilizing the Find feature on a computer. Few students had participated in Web site development and, of those who are doing it in school, 100% reported that their experience was with the school's technology teacher, not in a classroom or subject-based learning experience.

Although some claimed to be knowledgeable in searching on the Internet, few knew about such basic browser features as bookmarks and hyperlinks. Students were most familiar with America Online and Instant Messenger, because teenagers today have strong skills when it comes to involvement in chat rooms.

Ultimately, what did those who participated gain? Initial goals for the students included increased self-confidence, heightened curiosity, and fun. Others included the hope that instructional and learning strategies were modeled in the process. Awareness of and an interest in community developed, and lasting friendships may follow. More than anything, we hope that the children had a positive, memorable experience. To add to their memories, at the end of the summer, each participant received their work on a floppy disk. They also received a CD that has the complete Web site saved as a read-only PDF (portable document file) so that he or she can access the information that was developed at camp.

Unanticipated successes included the following: In the area of our evaluation form where we asked, "What was the best part of FedEx Technology Camp?" three campers responded, "the kind of help we received." One camper e-mailed us the day after camp to thank us and to tell us that she was applying her new knowledge to a different assignment. In one camper's Web page about his community, he commented, "Today, this is my community." What more could we hope for?

What happened this summer when I was "visioning"? As an educator, I learned more about participating on a team. I expanded my teaching strategies, and I found that each camp day was a new experience, since I was working with a unique group of students. My professional dreams grew outside the box. I hope that FedEx decides to expand this experience in the future to include more locations worldwide. It is my hope that educational technology leaders will be inspired to create a business-school partnership to broaden and realize their own professional goals.

 

Linda Kantor Goodwin has a Master's degree in Technology in Education from Rosemont College. This Apple Distinguished Educator is working toward a doctorate from Pepperdine University's Graduate Studies Program in Education and is dedicated to providing vision for St. Mary's Episcopal School in Memphis, Tenn. As Coordinator of Academic Technology, Linda has been involved in the school's technology education program since its infancy. As Chair of the Computer Science Department, Linda establishes innovative staff development programs, such as Computer U, which received recognition through the ComputerWorld Smithsonian Awards Program last spring, negotiates with hardware and software companies to pilot new trends, and assists faculty and students. She is an author, consultant, speaker, Web site designer, and instructional designer.

 

E-mail: lindagoodwin@earthlink.net

 

X@XOpenTag004

 

 

 

References

 

Bos, Nathan and Michele Wisnudel. 1996. "Summer Computer Camps – Developing Appropriate Educational Goals." Learning and Leading with Technology, April 1996. 6-9.

 

Callaway, Erin. 1999. "Can We Solve the Skills Crisis?" Managing Automation, March 2000. 38-45.

 

Green, Kenneth C. 2000. "The Real IT Challenge: People, Not Products." Converge, January 2000. 76-77.

 

"The Shortage of Information Technology Skills." 2000. Available online: www.fedex.com/us/careers/white
paper.html
.X@XOpenTag002X@XCloseTag002

Where are teachers in the educational technology landscape? I ask myself this question each summer when I venture out in the world for two months, away from my job as Coordinator of Academic Technology for a K-12 campus. With 14 years of experience in educational technology, this gift of time is an opportunity for personal reflection and professional development. I take advantage of it as best I can, dreaming, or "visioning," as I prefer to call it.

This past summer I accepted the position of teacher intern at FedEx World Tech Center in Collierville, Tenn. Because of my background in developing technology camps for children, I was asked to create and implement a pilot program, FedEx Technology Camp. This consisted of free, one-day camps for middle school students throughout the country. The locations included Memphis, Orlando, Dallas, and Colorado Springs.

This opportunity led me to conclusions about our responsibilities as educators and about the importance of this kind of technology education. The process involved research, conversations and experience with a diverse group of middle school children in each of the participating communities. The things I learned were both rewarding and disappointing. For me, the research confirmed fears about what teachers may or may not be doing, and what students may or may not be learning about technology in the educational setting. Now I wonder, where do we go from here? The purpose of this article is to tell my story, to stress the importance of partnerships between businesses and schools for students in the K-12 world, to praise the commitment of businesses supporting local communities, and to inspire educational professionals to take an active leadership role in creating similar opportunities for children and for themselves.

 

X@XOpenTag000The Need for Student Technology Training

X@XCloseTag000According to FedEx and ech'ed in Callaway's article "Can We Solve the Skills Crisis?" (1999), there is an extreme shortage of qualified applicants for the kinds of jobs available in today's information technology industry. The situation is one that is growing as technologies improve and our dependence on them increases. An article titled "The Shortage of Information Technology Skills" states that "The rapid advance of technology, the rise of the Internet and the overall growth of the economy has created severe problems for companies seeking skilled information technology (IT) workers. The Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) conducted an extensive study of large and mid-size IT and non-IT companies throughout the United States. They found that there are about 2 million white-collar IT workers in the United States, including programmers, network specialists, and others, with approximately 190,000 unfilled IT positions nationwide. That means there is roughly one vacancy for every 10 IT employees. The demand for such workers is projected to double in the next five years, says Tony Vickers, ITAA's executive director" (2000).

To address this concern, educational professionals are being asked to consider this shortage as they develop educational technology and computer science curricula for high school students. As one solution to this problem, a task force among representatives of FedEx, along with Netscape Communications Corp., Informix Software, Inc., Sun Microsystems, Hewlett-Packard, Sybase, Inc., and The University of Memphis, developed The Internet Curriculum Consortium, which can be viewed at www.fedex.com/us/careers/white
paper.html.

Although the consortium curriculum published on the Internet was designed for higher education students, adaptations can be made for those in middle and high school settings. Learning takes place through distance education, onsite training, and outsource personnel. Becoming prepared to enter the world of Information Technology requires interest in the field, as well as an open mind for training and development. The two goals of the Technology Camp pilot program were to give back to the community and to prepare youth for an e-future. FedEx helped to fulfill these goals by hosting the free one-day camp that included a computer and Internet skills-building curriculum.

X@XOpenTag001Laying the Groundwork

X@XCloseTag001Initially, the camp was going to be a Memphis-based experience that would take place a number of times. We considered the possibility of adding more facilitators. Local meetings were held regularly, camp goals quickly expanded to include the other locations, and the meetings became teleconferences. The dynamic team in the Global Recruitment division of FedEx showed strong support as plans were made.

Under the guidance of the manager and the leadership of a recruiter, logistics became a non-issue for me. I focused on the curriculum and instruction for this project; the other teacher intern helped facilitate the camp experience by handling the paperwork, continuing to test the technology-based curriculum, editing, making suggestions, assisting the students, and providing tremendous support. Working with all those involved was an enriching team experience for me.

Through internal research, 15 area schools from which to draw the pool of students were demographically selected from the Memphis area. Schools chosen to participate included five in the city, five in the county, and five independent schools. The other cities used similar criteria for their selection process. A breakfast presentation and meeting were planned for the 15 local principals of those schools in order to explain the program and answer any relevant questions. The participating cities held a similar breakfast meeting. Administrators, faculty members, and technology coordinators had the responsibility of nominating three middle school students and one alternate. Our request, as educators, was to ensure that the selections were based on student interest in technology, or insight that this opportunity would be a rewarding experience for the selected students.

Families received nomination letters in packets introducing FedEx Technology Camp. Only three of the nominated students chose not to attend, due to alternative summer commitments. After developing communication with the prospective campers, we sent each one a FedEx Technology Skills Assessment Survey and further details of camp plans.

I was haunted by a doubtful colleague who wondered, "Is a camp that focuses on technology skills really necessary for students in the year 2000? Aren't we past that?" After all, according to Green (2000), "We are now roughly two decades into the so-called technology revolution in education." I realized that the answer to these essential questions would be evident in the survey results. Based on my experience as a technology teacher, an inventory is essential to predict which students will need assistance and which students will need to be challenged. The information is also helpful in developing curriculum. This inventory was designed as a Likert scale (31 items with a range of 1-4) and was based on a similar format developed by a colleague. I decided that the first group of questions would give students a comfort level with the format of the questionnaire. I limited the questions to a single page of one-line questions divided into categories, realizing that too many technical questions may seem intimidating. Based on the questionnaire answers from each city's group of students, I was able to identify the skills they needed to develop during camp.

 

X@XOpenTag002Putting It All Together

X@XCloseTag002The fun began as I thought about the curriculum for the camp. I spent several weeks poring over endless possibilities, aware of the limitations of time and space. Isearched a variety of related topics on the Internet and read published articles such as "Summer Computer Camps – Developing Appropriate Educational Goals" by Bos and Wisnudel (1996). Unlike other technology camps that I located, these campers ultimately had only one day, specifically part of one day, to develop skills through engaging activities. My role was to make that event meaningful and to provide beneficial skill-building opportunities.

Developing the curriculum was a stimulating responsibility. I designed an Internet Scavenger Hunt, including 15 topics consisting of three questions. Campers used a variety of techniques to work in pairs or teams. Throughout the hunt, they learned about the weather in the participating cities, animal facts, information about silent movies, pizza trivia, and more. For some, it was a new experience to see a QuickTime video as one of the required topics. Prizes and giveaways, sponsored by Bytes of Learning (www.bytesoflearning.com) and Tech4Learning (www.tech4learning.com), were awarded to the team that got the most correct answers within the time limits. It was gratifying to observe how interested and involved each camper was throughout the discussion of the answers. Each camper was provided a list of the visited Web sites to use in the future.

The day's agenda was complete with a variety of activities, beginning with a breakfast for everyone and, for the parents, an informative meeting and tour of the facility. Campers began their day with the Internet Scavenger Hunt. Subsequent camp activities included Web site creation, outdoor games, lunch, and a presentation about an Internet Science and Technology Fair hosted by the University of Central Florida and sponsored by FedEx.

I created a general Technology Camp Web site for the FedEx Intranet. This site features an overview with the objectives of the camp from an educator's perspective. The objectives include categories like Technical, Internet, and Web Site Development. The site also features a Scavenger Hunt, Agenda, and a Web site help file offering tips, tricks, and the related image gallery, as well as a participants' page with a list of all campers. Each camper's site is linked to his or her name.

Other features of the participants' page are links to each camper's school Web site and links to the official state sites where each FedEx Technology Camp was held. Because of time constraints, a set of original Web site templates was provided to the campers. They used Netscape Composer to edit and customize the templates. Providing templates stimulated ideas and encouraged creativity more quickly than if they had started from scratch. It also enabled them to go over necessary skills, such as how to create a hyperlink, in a consistent manner before working on their own. I made the decision to use Netscape Composer to show the campers that they could do Web editing without spending a great deal of money on a program designed specifically for that purpose.

The campers' sites are linked to the main site and include several files, each one representing a separate area of interest. Campers entered information about their families, pets, interests and more. We used a digital camera to take photos of the day's activities and then uploaded the images to their image directory. Those who had alternative suggestions were encouraged to develop their ideas. All involved improved their editing skills (changing fonts, colors, styles), inserted images from clipart or created original images, created and tested hyperlinks, and changed background colors. In addition, they inserted things like targets, rules, bullets and other standard Web features. The absence of experience or knowledge of related terminology and many of these skills was alarming. However, as the day progressed, campers remained engaged and the quality of the exuberant Web sites was apparent.

Several Internet issues provided stimulating discussions during the day. One of these issues was Internet safety. To address this concern from the corporation's standpoint, the site was hosted on the FedEx Intranet, since its firewall prevents questionable sites from being accessed. The campers and I explained the roles and the differences between the Internet and an Intranet. This conversation led to a discussion of personal safety on the Internet, including what we could and could not include on our Web sites, and some guidelines about using chat rooms when campers, outside of this one-day experience, are online. Another concern that was addressed is copyright laws, including the concept of copyright friendly images. We discussed that although it is easy to take things from the Internet, doing so d'es not make it lawful or ethical. To enhance the Web sites, copyright friendly images were provided for this learning experience. The Image Gallery included a variety of images divided into categories.

 

X@XOpenTag003Looking Back

X@XCloseTag003The results of the skill assessments were consistent. My experience observing and teaching these students for one day confirmed the findings. Most revealing is the fact that students feel competent in word processing. Beyond that, skills range from 1-4 (low to high) in general skills, which include restarting a computer, emptying the Recycle Bin, and deleting a file. It was disappointing to learn how few students possessed skills like utilizing the Find feature on a computer. Few students had participated in Web site development and, of those who are doing it in school, 100% reported that their experience was with the school's technology teacher, not in a classroom or subject-based learning experience.

Although some claimed to be knowledgeable in searching on the Internet, few knew about such basic browser features as bookmarks and hyperlinks. Students were most familiar with America Online and Instant Messenger, because teenagers today have strong skills when it comes to involvement in chat rooms.

Ultimately, what did those who participated gain? Initial goals for the students included increased self-confidence, heightened curiosity, and fun. Others included the hope that instructional and learning strategies were modeled in the process. Awareness of and an interest in community developed, and lasting friendships may follow. More than anything, we hope that the children had a positive, memorable experience. To add to their memories, at the end of the summer, each participant received their work on a floppy disk. They also received a CD that has the complete Web site saved as a read-only PDF (portable document file) so that he or she can access the information that was developed at camp.

Unanticipated successes included the following: In the area of our evaluation form where we asked, "What was the best part of FedEx Technology Camp?" three campers responded, "the kind of help we received." One camper e-mailed us the day after camp to thank us and to tell us that she was applying her new knowledge to a different assignment. In one camper's Web page about his community, he commented, "Today, this is my community." What more could we hope for?

What happened this summer when I was "visioning"? As an educator, I learned more about participating on a team. I expanded my teaching strategies, and I found that each camp day was a new experience, since I was working with a unique group of students. My professional dreams grew outside the box. I hope that FedEx decides to expand this experience in the future to include more locations worldwide. It is my hope that educational technology leaders will be inspired to create a business-school partnership to broaden and realize their own professional goals.

 

Linda Kantor Goodwin has a Master's degree in Technology in Education from Rosemont College. This Apple Distinguished Educator is working toward a doctorate from Pepperdine University's Graduate Studies Program in Education and is dedicated to providing vision for St. Mary's Episcopal School in Memphis, Tenn. As Coordinator of Academic Technology, Linda has been involved in the school's technology education program since its infancy. As Chair of the Computer Science Department, Linda establishes innovative staff development programs, such as Computer U, which received recognition through the ComputerWorld Smithsonian Awards Program last spring, negotiates with hardware and software companies to pilot new trends, and assists faculty and students. She is an author, consultant, speaker, Web site designer, and instructional designer.

 

E-mail: lindagoodwin@earthlink.net

 

X@XOpenTag004

 

 

 

References

 

X@XCloseTag004Bos, Nathan and Michele Wisnudel. 1996. "Summer Computer Camps – Developing Appropriate Educational Goals." Learning and Leading with Technology, April 1996. 6-9.

 

Callaway, Erin. 1999. "Can We Solve the Skills Crisis?" Managing Automation, March 2000. 38-45.

 

Green, Kenneth C. 2000. "The Real IT Challenge: People, Not Products." Converge, January 2000. 76-77.

 

"The Shortage of Information Technology Skills." 2000. Available online: www.fedex.com/us/careers/white
paper.html
.X@XOpenTag005X@XOpenTag003X@XCloseTag003

Where are teachers in the educational technology landscape? I ask myself this question each summer when I venture out in the world for two months, away from my job as Coordinator of Academic Technology for a K-12 campus. With 14 years of experience in educational technology, this gift of time is an opportunity for personal reflection and professional development. I take advantage of it as best I can, dreaming, or "visioning," as I prefer to call it.

This past summer I accepted the position of teacher intern at FedEx World Tech Center in Collierville, Tenn. Because of my background in developing technology camps for children, I was asked to create and implement a pilot program, FedEx Technology Camp. This consisted of free, one-day camps for middle school students throughout the country. The locations included Memphis, Orlando, Dallas, and Colorado Springs.

This opportunity led me to conclusions about our responsibilities as educators and about the importance of this kind of technology education. The process involved research, conversations and experience with a diverse group of middle school children in each of the participating communities. The things I learned were both rewarding and disappointing. For me, the research confirmed fears about what teachers may or may not be doing, and what students may or may not be learning about technology in the educational setting. Now I wonder, where do we go from here? The purpose of this article is to tell my story, to stress the importance of partnerships between businesses and schools for students in the K-12 world, to praise the commitment of businesses supporting local communities, and to inspire educational professionals to take an active leadership role in creating similar opportunities for children and for themselves.

 

X@XOpenTag000The Need for Student Technology Training

X@XCloseTag000According to FedEx and ech'ed in Callaway's article "Can We Solve the Skills Crisis?" (1999), there is an extreme shortage of qualified applicants for the kinds of jobs available in today's information technology industry. The situation is one that is growing as technologies improve and our dependence on them increases. An article titled "The Shortage of Information Technology Skills" states that "The rapid advance of technology, the rise of the Internet and the overall growth of the economy has created severe problems for companies seeking skilled information technology (IT) workers. The Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) conducted an extensive study of large and mid-size IT and non-IT companies throughout the United States. They found that there are about 2 million white-collar IT workers in the United States, including programmers, network specialists, and others, with approximately 190,000 unfilled IT positions nationwide. That means there is roughly one vacancy for every 10 IT employees. The demand for such workers is projected to double in the next five years, says Tony Vickers, ITAA's executive director" (2000).

To address this concern, educational professionals are being asked to consider this shortage as they develop educational technology and computer science curricula for high school students. As one solution to this problem, a task force among representatives of FedEx, along with Netscape Communications Corp., Informix Software, Inc., Sun Microsystems, Hewlett-Packard, Sybase, Inc., and The University of Memphis, developed The Internet Curriculum Consortium, which can be viewed at www.fedex.com/us/careers/white
paper.html.

Although the consortium curriculum published on the Internet was designed for higher education students, adaptations can be made for those in middle and high school settings. Learning takes place through distance education, onsite training, and outsource personnel. Becoming prepared to enter the world of Information Technology requires interest in the field, as well as an open mind for training and development. The two goals of the Technology Camp pilot program were to give back to the community and to prepare youth for an e-future. FedEx helped to fulfill these goals by hosting the free one-day camp that included a computer and Internet skills-building curriculum.

X@XOpenTag001Laying the Groundwork

X@XCloseTag001Initially, the camp was going to be a Memphis-based experience that would take place a number of times. We considered the possibility of adding more facilitators. Local meetings were held regularly, camp goals quickly expanded to include the other locations, and the meetings became teleconferences. The dynamic team in the Global Recruitment division of FedEx showed strong support as plans were made.

Under the guidance of the manager and the leadership of a recruiter, logistics became a non-issue for me. I focused on the curriculum and instruction for this project; the other teacher intern helped facilitate the camp experience by handling the paperwork, continuing to test the technology-based curriculum, editing, making suggestions, assisting the students, and providing tremendous support. Working with all those involved was an enriching team experience for me.

Through internal research, 15 area schools from which to draw the pool of students were demographically selected from the Memphis area. Schools chosen to participate included five in the city, five in the county, and five independent schools. The other cities used similar criteria for their selection process. A breakfast presentation and meeting were planned for the 15 local principals of those schools in order to explain the program and answer any relevant questions. The participating cities held a similar breakfast meeting. Administrators, faculty members, and technology coordinators had the responsibility of nominating three middle school students and one alternate. Our request, as educators, was to ensure that the selections were based on student interest in technology, or insight that this opportunity would be a rewarding experience for the selected students.

Families received nomination letters in packets introducing FedEx Technology Camp. Only three of the nominated students chose not to attend, due to alternative summer commitments. After developing communication with the prospective campers, we sent each one a FedEx Technology Skills Assessment Survey and further details of camp plans.

I was haunted by a doubtful colleague who wondered, "Is a camp that focuses on technology skills really necessary for students in the year 2000? Aren't we past that?" After all, according to Green (2000), "We are now roughly two decades into the so-called technology revolution in education." I realized that the answer to these essential questions would be evident in the survey results. Based on my experience as a technology teacher, an inventory is essential to predict which students will need assistance and which students will need to be challenged. The information is also helpful in developing curriculum. This inventory was designed as a Likert scale (31 items with a range of 1-4) and was based on a similar format developed by a colleague. I decided that the first group of questions would give students a comfort level with the format of the questionnaire. I limited the questions to a single page of one-line questions divided into categories, realizing that too many technical questions may seem intimidating. Based on the questionnaire answers from each city's group of students, I was able to identify the skills they needed to develop during camp.

 

X@XOpenTag002Putting It All Together

X@XCloseTag002The fun began as I thought about the curriculum for the camp. I spent several weeks poring over endless possibilities, aware of the limitations of time and space. Isearched a variety of related topics on the Internet and read published articles such as "Summer Computer Camps – Developing Appropriate Educational Goals" by Bos and Wisnudel (1996). Unlike other technology camps that I located, these campers ultimately had only one day, specifically part of one day, to develop skills through engaging activities. My role was to make that event meaningful and to provide beneficial skill-building opportunities.

Developing the curriculum was a stimulating responsibility. I designed an Internet Scavenger Hunt, including 15 topics consisting of three questions. Campers used a variety of techniques to work in pairs or teams. Throughout the hunt, they learned about the weather in the participating cities, animal facts, information about silent movies, pizza trivia, and more. For some, it was a new experience to see a QuickTime video as one of the required topics. Prizes and giveaways, sponsored by Bytes of Learning (www.bytesoflearning.com) and Tech4Learning (www.tech4learning.com), were awarded to the team that got the most correct answers within the time limits. It was gratifying to observe how interested and involved each camper was throughout the discussion of the answers. Each camper was provided a list of the visited Web sites to use in the future.

The day's agenda was complete with a variety of activities, beginning with a breakfast for everyone and, for the parents, an informative meeting and tour of the facility. Campers began their day with the Internet Scavenger Hunt. Subsequent camp activities included Web site creation, outdoor games, lunch, and a presentation about an Internet Science and Technology Fair hosted by the University of Central Florida and sponsored by FedEx.

I created a general Technology Camp Web site for the FedEx Intranet. This site features an overview with the objectives of the camp from an educator's perspective. The objectives include categories like Technical, Internet, and Web Site Development. The site also features a Scavenger Hunt, Agenda, and a Web site help file offering tips, tricks, and the related image gallery, as well as a participants' page with a list of all campers. Each camper's site is linked to his or her name.

Other features of the participants' page are links to each camper's school Web site and links to the official state sites where each FedEx Technology Camp was held. Because of time constraints, a set of original Web site templates was provided to the campers. They used Netscape Composer to edit and customize the templates. Providing templates stimulated ideas and encouraged creativity more quickly than if they had started from scratch. It also enabled them to go over necessary skills, such as how to create a hyperlink, in a consistent manner before working on their own. I made the decision to use Netscape Composer to show the campers that they could do Web editing without spending a great deal of money on a program designed specifically for that purpose.

The campers' sites are linked to the main site and include several files, each one representing a separate area of interest. Campers entered information about their families, pets, interests and more. We used a digital camera to take photos of the day's activities and then uploaded the images to their image directory. Those who had alternative suggestions were encouraged to develop their ideas. All involved improved their editing skills (changing fonts, colors, styles), inserted images from clipart or created original images, created and tested hyperlinks, and changed background colors. In addition, they inserted things like targets, rules, bullets and other standard Web features. The absence of experience or knowledge of related terminology and many of these skills was alarming. However, as the day progressed, campers remained engaged and the quality of the exuberant Web sites was apparent.

Several Internet issues provided stimulating discussions during the day. One of these issues was Internet safety. To address this concern from the corporation's standpoint, the site was hosted on the FedEx Intranet, since its firewall prevents questionable sites from being accessed. The campers and I explained the roles and the differences between the Internet and an Intranet. This conversation led to a discussion of personal safety on the Internet, including what we could and could not include on our Web sites, and some guidelines about using chat rooms when campers, outside of this one-day experience, are online. Another concern that was addressed is copyright laws, including the concept of copyright friendly images. We discussed that although it is easy to take things from the Internet, doing so d'es not make it lawful or ethical. To enhance the Web sites, copyright friendly images were provided for this learning experience. The Image Gallery included a variety of images divided into categories.

 

X@XOpenTag003Looking Back

X@XCloseTag003The results of the skill assessments were consistent. My experience observing and teaching these students for one day confirmed the findings. Most revealing is the fact that students feel competent in word processing. Beyond that, skills range from 1-4 (low to high) in general skills, which include restarting a computer, emptying the Recycle Bin, and deleting a file. It was disappointing to learn how few students possessed skills like utilizing the Find feature on a computer. Few students had participated in Web site development and, of those who are doing it in school, 100% reported that their experience was with the school's technology teacher, not in a classroom or subject-based learning experience.

Although some claimed to be knowledgeable in searching on the Internet, few knew about such basic browser features as bookmarks and hyperlinks. Students were most familiar with America Online and Instant Messenger, because teenagers today have strong skills when it comes to involvement in chat rooms.

Ultimately, what did those who participated gain? Initial goals for the students included increased self-confidence, heightened curiosity, and fun. Others included the hope that instructional and learning strategies were modeled in the process. Awareness of and an interest in community developed, and lasting friendships may follow. More than anything, we hope that the children had a positive, memorable experience. To add to their memories, at the end of the summer, each participant received their work on a floppy disk. They also received a CD that has the complete Web site saved as a read-only PDF (portable document file) so that he or she can access the information that was developed at camp.

Unanticipated successes included the following: In the area of our evaluation form where we asked, "What was the best part of FedEx Technology Camp?" three campers responded, "the kind of help we received." One camper e-mailed us the day after camp to thank us and to tell us that she was applying her new knowledge to a different assignment. In one camper's Web page about his community, he commented, "Today, this is my community." What more could we hope for?

What happened this summer when I was "visioning"? As an educator, I learned more about participating on a team. I expanded my teaching strategies, and I found that each camp day was a new experience, since I was working with a unique group of students. My professional dreams grew outside the box. I hope that FedEx decides to expand this experience in the future to include more locations worldwide. It is my hope that educational technology leaders will be inspired to create a business-school partnership to broaden and realize their own professional goals.

 

Linda Kantor Goodwin has a Master's degree in Technology in Education from Rosemont College. This Apple Distinguished Educator is working toward a doctorate from Pepperdine University's Graduate Studies Program in Education and is dedicated to providing vision for St. Mary's Episcopal School in Memphis, Tenn. As Coordinator of Academic Technology, Linda has been involved in the school's technology education program since its infancy. As Chair of the Computer Science Department, Linda establishes innovative staff development programs, such as Computer U, which received recognition through the ComputerWorld Smithsonian Awards Program last spring, negotiates with hardware and software companies to pilot new trends, and assists faculty and students. She is an author, consultant, speaker, Web site designer, and instructional designer.

 

E-mail: lindagoodwin@earthlink.net

 

X@XOpenTag004

 

 

 

References

 

X@XCloseTag004Bos, Nathan and Michele Wisnudel. 1996. "Summer Computer Camps – Developing Appropriate Educational Goals." Learning and Leading with Technology, April 1996. 6-9.

 

Callaway, Erin. 1999. "Can We Solve the Skills Crisis?" Managing Automation, March 2000. 38-45.

 

Green, Kenneth C. 2000. "The Real IT Challenge: People, Not Products." Converge, January 2000. 76-77.

 

"The Shortage of Information Technology Skills." 2000. Available online: www.fedex.com/us/careers/white
paper.html
.X@XCloseTag005

X@XCloseTag004

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