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Youth Building ICT Fluency Through Design

About ICT4me

ICT4me is an afterschool and summer youth-based curriculum for middle school youth to develop Information Communication and Technology (ICT) fluency, interest in mathematics, and knowledge of ICT careers. ICT4me is a problem-based curriculum that capitalizes on youth interest in design and communication technologies and incorporates performance tasks for ICT fluency assessment.

What is ICT? Information Technology is the study, design, development, implementation, support or management of computer-based information systems. ICT professionals perform a variety of duties that range from installing applications to designing complex computer networks and information databaess.

Why youth? Women constitute 46% of the U.S. workforce but hold just 27% of computer science and engineering jobs, with minority women holding roughly 7% of these jobs. Fundamental obstacles to youth entering the technology and engineering workforce today are the value they place on these careers and their interests in technology and engineering topics. Providing youth with opportunities to experience the value of these careers through role models; engage in activities that connect their interests to technology and engineering; and experience success in these activities are powerful motivators for persisting in male-dominated ICT careers and developing their ICT fluency. Through their participation in ICT4me:

  • Youth images of ICT careers as solitary and boring changed to collaborative, fun, and intellectually stimulating
  • Youth gained confidence with computers over time, while a comparison group lost confidence. Additionally, ICT4me youth believed they could teach someone else to use a computer.
  • Youth increased their technology skills and conceptual knowledge
  • Youth expressed more interest in taking college preparatory mathematics and computer science courses.

In ICT4me, middle school youth explore and tinker with existing information technologies (e.g., web-based tools, collaboration tools, wireless and mobile devices) and create some of their own information technologies using simple programming tools. Throughout ICT4me's afterschool and summer sessions, youth use the design process and experience user-centered and participatory design methodologies within a variety of information technology development projects. Each unit of ICT4me integrates information technology, computer science, design, and mathematics that engage youth. Participants interact with women ICT professionals in a varitey of careers to encourage youth to consider an ICT career. Embedded in the curriculum are technology fluency tasks that require the youth to demonstrate in specific performances what they are learning to themselves, their peers, youth development leaders, parents, teachers, and the larger community.


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© 2013-2016 SRI International. 333 Ravenswood Ave. Menlo Park, CA 94205. Produced by the Center for Technology in Learning at SRI International with support from the National Science Foundation under Grant Nos. 1339181, 1232461, and 0524762. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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