The NCWIT K-12 Alliance deployed its first project this week: we gave away 4,000 Gotta Have IT resource kits at the 2007 National Educational Computing Conference (NECC) in Atlanta, Georgia. The conference, sponsored by ISTE, attracts more than 18,000 K-12 educators from around the world. We’re eager to distribute the kit to these educators, and to hear more about their needs, concerns, stories and successes, teaching technology in their classrooms. In conjunction with the conference, we also formally announced the launch of the K-12 Alliance.
Gotta Have IT is an amazing collection of educational resources, hand-picked by K-12 Alliance members as those deemed most effective at making computing more attractive and to all students (but especially girls.) The kit includes brochures, career information, educational booklets from ACM, ISTE, NCWIT, and Sally Ride Science, as well the CWIT DVD “You Can Be Anything”, and the “IT Is All About Me” poster from CSTA. It also includes a pointer to extended resources from the Girl Scouts, Microsoft, Carnegie Mellon (home of the ALICE programming language), and Lego Mindstorms, among others. You can view descriptions of all the resources, download many of them, and link to their home websites by visiting http://www.ncwit.org/ghit.
It took the better part of four, full, back-breaking days – and help from four energetic University of Colorado students – to assemble the 4,000 kits, and they look great. But it took only a few hours for the word to get out about them. Gotta Have IT was introduced during the conference keynote on Wednesday, but we’d already given away more than 1,200 kits by Tuesday afternoon. Without really even trying.
At the NCWIT K-12 Alliance booth (which was lucky to possess some of the best real estate at the conference) we were peppered with questions from some of the most passionate, well-informed, and nicest professionals we’d ever talked to. “We need more girls,” they’d say, or “We need more resources like this.” And “Thank you for putting this into our hands for free.” “I’m glad they are useful for both boys and girls.” “We need more computer scientists”. We scanned folks’ badges for follow-up, we chatted non-stop, and we all were worn out at day’s end.
We are very interested in what the computing educational community has to say about these resources. NCWIT social scientists plan to evaluate the usage and effectiveness of the kit’s contents. If you attended the NECC conference and stopped by our booth to pick up a kit, please let us know what you think – we’d love to get your opinion. If we scanned your badge, be prepared to hear from us with some follow-up questions. Your feedback plays an important role as we assess the potential of these resources, as well as the potential for a “community” of IT teachers committed to improving the instruction of K-12 computing education in our nation.
Huge thanks go to the K-12 Alliance members for getting this project moving and out the door; and to our investment partners and K-12 financial supporters: Intel, Pfizer, Microsoft, and Avaya. We can’t do this without you. If you could have seen these K-12 educators react to our collective work, you would know yours was money and time well spent. Thank you, and thank you again.
Katie Ertz is Operations Director for NCWIT; Lucy Sanders is NCWIT’s CEO and Co-founder. Both were caught having fun at NECC.