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Blog // Connect Ohio

TECH CORPS Highlights Importance of Technology to Education

By Lyndsey Kleven

TECH CORPS’ aim is to inspire and educate K-12 students about technology and the computer science industry. Founded in 1995, its mission is to create a technologically literate society in which all K-12 students have equal access to technology skills, programs, and resources that will enhance their education and allow them to successfully compete in the global economy.

The mission is achieved through the organization’s support and recruitment of tech-savvy volunteers, looking to give back by providing students with Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) related skills. The organization is based on founder Gary Beach’s vision that the organization would challenge American volunteers to help K-12 schools build a technology infrastructure, creating a high-tech Peace Corps-like structure. 

“We think about the digital divide not just in terms of connectivity and hardware, but also in terms of technology content or curriculum,” said Lisa M. Chambers, national executive director of TECH CORPS. “Too often, children in low-resourced communities are introduced to technology in the ‘user’ mindset. TECH CORPS programs are not computer literacy programs, but instead programs that put students in the role of actively creating and designing with technology-not just passively using and consuming it."

The organization’s work has evolved over the years, as has the technology industry. Early on, TECH CORPS volunteers and programs focused on  wiring school buildings, setting up computer labs, or training teachers how to effectively integrate technology into the classroom.

Today, in response to the growing demand for STEM-skilled workers, TECH CORPS is more focused on the development of programs that encourage and prepare students to pursue STEM and technology-related careers.

The volunteers that TECH CORPS seeks to drive this movement must come from computer science and engineering backgrounds. Being a TECH CORPS volunteer entails serving as a role model and a resource for implementing programs that allow students to acquire a valuable and measurable set of technology skills. The skills the children are learning lead to success in the classroom and ultimately prepare them for the technologically rich workforce of tomorrow.

“We’re helping students see computers as something that they can control, as opposed to something that they just passively work with,” said Eva Bradshaw, TECH CORPS volunteer. “Providing experiences where the students are in control and controlling the technology.”

With its largest footprint in metropolitan areas, TECH CORPS faces less of an issue with connectivity and find most of its challenges in the equipment available at the schools. 

“In several of the program sites, the equipment is older than the kids that are using it, that poses some challenges,” said Chambers. “The goal is to move kids from being great users of technology and move them to becoming great technology designers. Working on technology projects today, starting technology companies in the future. We like to say, ‘TECH CORPS students today, technology innovators and leaders tomorrow’ – that’s really what this work is about!” 

Learn more about TECH CORPS

Learn more about Connect Ohio's education month

Stay tuned for another story featuring TECH CORPS' programs!

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