RALEIGH, NC - Are high school IT students actually being given the chance to work on computers in their school system? The answer, surprisingly often, is "yes," according to results of QTL's fall survey.
Almost half of the participating QTL teachers who responded to a fall survey (47%, to be exact) said their students get to perform general tech support or troubleshooting at least once a week. More than two thirds say the opportunity arises "at least monthly."
Students also commonly get the chance to install hardware or software - 74% of teacher say that happens "at least monthly" and almost half say it's a weekly occurence.
"We help out the IT department with minor troubleshooting problems," says Shannon Burts of Fallin Career & Tech Center in Natchez, MS. "They did not have to come out very often to our high school."
A surprising 45% are able to upgrade donated computers for use in the school at least monthly. Most have built computers for the school system from kits at least "a few times," though about half say that doesn't happen often.
Even those who don't often get to put students to work on school computers sometimes find a way to provide hands-on experience.
"We have found a frirend in the local US Meteorological shop where several kids have procured internships," says Sam Stephens of Asheville (NC) High School. "These guys (mostly USAF and USAF civilian employees) have the best "toy shop" in town and the kids who get to work there are overjoyed. Good comments back about the quality of the interns and repeated requests for more are a pretty good compliment."
The survey also asked teachers to rate the latest edition of QTL resources, and most say the 2005-06 curriculum release is a big step in the right direction. The revision was designed to reduce teachers' planning time and to provide more content with which to teach Computer Engineering and QTL's Networking. Activities and lesson plans were re-written to be more clear, materials were re-organized to be easier to find, and new resources were added to make the curriculum more robust. Additions included PowerPoint presentations for each objective, additional student handouts and worksheets, and numerous resources shared by teachers in the program.
Almost every teacher who responded to the Fall survey rated the re-formatted 'objective packets,' the added student materials and the new web interface as major improvements. Updated test item banks, now provided in multiple formats, were the most popular improvement of all. 94% of those responding said they have gotten use out of the "Strategies for Success" and "Quality Teaching Strategies" handbooks, or plan to use those resources.
"I like the student worksheets," says Billy Garner of Wynne, AR. "My students are always staying they want to do something 'fun.' These worksheets reflect what they have learned and also can be used as teaching tools."
Among support services, the active IT-teachers listserv, the FTP site for shared resources and the electronic newsletter were deemed the most useful services provided to participating teachers, with free workshops and the new Regional Facilitators also rated highly.
"The workshops make me feel like a professional," says Martha Prescott-Gaskill of Pamlico County, NC. "It also gives me the opportunity to reflect on the way I present material, motivate my students, and manage instruction."
QTL staff and lead teachers are working on 2006-07 improvements now, and we received several great suggestions through the survey. Participating teachers may still complete the survey at qtlcenters.org/itsurvey, or if you have a suggestion for improving QTL's IT resources or support!