Design-Based Information Technologies Learning Experiences (DITLE)
To address the needs of the US to increase the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) workforce with enhanced preparation and a diverse population of prepared secondary students, this strategies ITEST project will strengthen the current regional partnerships in place between secondary schools, the University of Cincinnati's Instructional Technology (IT) and STEM education programs, and local industries. This collaboration will develop layered programs for cohorts of secondary students, including those typically under-represented in ICT careers and in-service and pre-service secondary STEM teachers. The participants will engage in a range of ICT experiences beginning with fundamental ICT exposure coursework through selective accelerated courses and internships. This effort will incorporate university-based learning experiences, school-based learning experiences, and industry-based experiences for the students and educators. The project will also develop an innovative network and cloud-based virtual lab infrastructure for resource sharing across a multi-faceted system.
The project will add to the research in the area of ICT focused on mechanisms for expanding student participation; understanding the sets of experiences that support student competency and persistence into ICT careers; and broadening the demographics of students in ICT programs and careers. The research responds to the need to understand how students with different levels of academic success and support consider ICT career pathways. This can serve to develop better support systems to expand the ICT workforce. Finally, the research will document how regional networks can be leveraged to form a coherent effort, rather than a diversity of individual efforts with the similar but potentially divergent goals. The research/evaluation questions are: (1) What is the impact of students' previous academic preparation on understanding of ICT careers and workforce choices? (2) How does a student's previous academic preparation influence the student's success in engaging in design-based ICT learning activities? (3) Which activities are most engaging for students typically underrepresented in ICT careers and programs? and (4) In what ways do the partners, parents, and industry interact to form a comprehensive network in support of ICT career pathways for students?