FedEx Technology Camp

By Goodwin, Linda Kantor | T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education), January 2001 | Go to article overview

FedEx Technology Camp


Goodwin, Linda Kantor, T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)


Preparing Students for the Next Generation

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 echoed 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. …

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