Here are some scenarios for different types of site that could offer ICT4me.
If you are a...Small Site
Small sites can be very successful with ICT4me. One of the challenges for small
sites is allocating staff time for ICT4me, amidst all the other demands at hand.
It's important to make sure your ICT4me staff will have time for planning and
support for finding ICT professionals to visit. Senior staff at the sites can help
junior staff by taking on coordination with ICT professionals.
their unique populations.
In a large site, you have a lot of choices about how to implement ICT4me. Some examples of ways that large sites have used ICT4me include:
If you are a...Rural Site
One of the challenges for rural sites is finding ICT professionals in areas that don’t have a concentration of high-tech industry. However, evaluation findings shows that ICT professional visits are a major factor in helping youth to realize all the career possibilities available to them with ICT. You don’t need to be in Silicon Valley to find ICT professionals. There are small software companies located all around the country, and most businesses have tech-focused staff. Ask a local college or university if you can speak to their tech department. They might even have technology staff who design online education experiences. Museums are another good source for technology staff who have a design focus.Urban Site
Urban sites may have more ICT professionals within their vicinity than rural affiliates, but that doesn't mean they have it easy. One site found that ICT professionals were not always willing to come to their facility, because of the large amount of traffic they would face to get there. The solution? Bring the youth to the ICT professionals, allowing them to not only hear from women & minorities in technology fields, but also to see real workplaces. Field trips can in fact be more impactful for youth than visits from the ICT professional.
Urban sites often work with schools that are struggling and where principals have many competing interests. If you are working with such a school, you may find that the school does not always offer strong support to afterschool programs. Emphasize to the principal that ICT4me complements the work they are trying to do, by not only teaching youth technology skills, but also focusing on mathematics. Encourage teachers and administrators to come to Family Tech Nights so that they can see the work youth are doing in ICT4me.
If you are planning...An Afterschool Program
ICT4me was originally designed as 4 school-year units, for use in an afterschool program, and one summer unit, Unit 3. Unit 3 can be adapted for use during the school year, as has been done several times—activities can be broken into smaller chunks to fit into shorter after-school time periods instead of a longer summer day. One site made ICT4me a part of a school-day program, held after lunch. Staff worked with teachers to recruit youth into the program.
It's important that if you are implementing ICT4me at a school, you have support from the school’s administration. Make an agreement with the school about how you will recruit participants and whether they will help with recruiting, what space you will use, and what tools (such as school computers) will be available. Make sure the school sees how ICT4me connects to their goals for the students, including technology fluency and math knowledge.A Summer Program
There are lots of ways to use ICT4me in your summer program. ICT4me can be combined with other summer activities or used on its own. Many sites have implemented Unit 3 as a summer camp. Youth meet for several hours a day for about two weeks and by the end of camp, have a completed website that they can show off to their families and friends. Alternatively, you can integrate ICT4me with other summer camp activities. At several sites, Unit 1 was part of the summer camp program for teen youth, implemented for 2 hours twice a week, in coordination with other summer activities. Another site combined Units 1 and 2 into a several-week, 4-hours-a-day summer program.
Unit 3 is the only unit explicitly written for summer, but the other units can work for summer programs as well. You may need to combine a week’s worth of activities into a day of summer camp. One challenge is that the units can seem a little more school-like since they were designed for school year—you may need to adapt some of the activities to be more game-like for the youth.
Attendance can be a challenge with summer programs, with many youth going off on vacations. Some sites have found that it’s helpful to hold shorter, more intensive camps, rather than implementing ICT4me a couple times a week throughout the summer.
At one affiliate, ICT4me was a part of the Tech Girlz Summer Camp, which incorporated a variety of science and technology programming. The leader selected parts of Unit 2 and implemented them along with other STEM activities, such as making circuit boards, building bridges from toothpicks and gumdrops, and exploring the insides of a laptop. Often these activities occurred concurrently with ICT4me activities: half the group would be in the computer lab working on blogs, while the other half worked on circuit boards in another room. From Unit 2, youth learned about internet safety, learned how the Internet works and what makes up a URL, participated in several ICT professional visits/field trips, and created blogs on Blogger.
ICT4me is designed so that each day’s activities build on the last, and each unit includes a long-term project for youth to complete. This makes it difficult to implement ICT4me in a drop-in program. Youth tend to get frustrated by partners who don’t show up every week, and it is difficult for the leader to catch everyone up to the same point. We do not recommend implementing ICT4me in a drop-in setting. If your program is primarily drop-in and you would like to add ICT4me, you might try having youth and parents sign an agreement to participate regularly. (It’s okay if youth miss a few days here and there, for example if they are sick or have a doctor’s appointment.) You can also try implementing a more concentrated version of ICT4me—a week-long summer camp or spring break camp, for example—rather than implementing once or twice a week for a longer period.A Vacation Program
One site implemented a unit of ICT4me at the afterschool site, which meant they had more control of their space than at a school or other outside facility. However, many afterschool sites have a lot of programs competing for resouces. Make sure you reserve the room you need far in advance. Coordinate timing of your program so that you know computers will be available—or ask a local business or foundation for support to purchase a dedicated set of computers for ICT4me.
If your location is...An School Site
When you are working with a school, it’s important to gain buy-in from the school staff—both the principal and the teachers. Make an agreement with the school about how you will recruit participants and whether they will help with recruiting, what space you will use, and what tools (such as school computers) will be available. Make sure the school sees how ICT4me connects to their goals for the students, emphasizing that ICT4me complements the work they are trying to do, by not only teaching youth technology skills, but also focusing on mathematics. Encourage teachers and administrators to come to Family Tech Nights so that they can see the work youth are doing in ICT4me.An Afterschool Facility
Implementing ICT4me at an afterschool site means you have more control of your space than you would at a school or other outside facility. However, many sites have a lot of programs competing for resources. Make sure you reserve the room you need far in advance. Coordinate timing of your program so that you know computers will be available—or ask a local business or foundation for support to purchase a dedicated set of computers for ICT4me.
If your youth are...Younger
ICT4me is designed for 6th, 7th, and 8th grade youth. Some sites have used it with younger youth, generally with success. Youth from 4th grade to 8th grade at one site experienced both Unit 1 and Unit 3, and all were able to successfully design websites for themselves. The depth of content included in the sites varied with the youth age, as would be expected.
ICT4me is designed with middle school youth—6th, 7th, and 8th graders—in mind. However, some sites have used ICT4me with youth in high school. One site used Units 1 and 2 with middle and high school youth in a summer program; another did the same but only with Unit 1. Unit 1 on its own appears to be less appealing to high school youth, perhaps because it is less technology-focused than the other units. The projects are aimed at a younger audience. However, you can shorten Unit 1 to make it more appealing to older youth, and later units, in which youth are given more freedom to design their technology applications as they see fit, allow older youth to make their blogs, web sites or computer games interesting to them personally. If you are working with a group that ranges broadly in age, you may find it helpful to partner youth of similar ages, so that their joint projects can be done in a way that is age appropriate. With older youth, it is particularly important to think about courses they should be taking to stay on-track for high school graduation and success in college.
Varied in Their Level of Tech Experiences
ICT4me can work for youth with lots of technology experience, or very little. Most of the projects youth do can be done to varying levels of depth. If youth are very knowledgeable about technology, push them to add extra features to their websites or blogs. If youth are not very comfortable with computers, it’s okay to start slowly. One afterschool program created a short tech unit in which youth used the Design Process from ICT4me to create PowerPoint presentations about one another. They got more comfortable with the computer while reinforcing their knowledge of design.
If you are working on Unit 3, don't forget that there is a variation of the curriculum designed for youth who have already done the unit once (Unit 6). It allows them to learn more HTML, and to work as a team to design for a real client.
Often, staff at afterschool sites are enthusiastic about exposing youth to technology but don’t feel they have the expertise to lead a technology program. It’s okay for those staff members to lead ICT4me, but they will need lots of support as they go through the program. ICT4me is a big curriculum and it can seem imposing if it is simply handed to a staff member and they are told to implement it. Senior staff can work with junior staff to develop technology fluency and to troubleshoot technology difficulties. Plan to spend more time than usual on professional development and prep time. Plan to work with staff during their prep time, rather than having them work alone. If possible, have two staff members work together on implementing ICT4me, so they can use each other as a support system. Encourage staff that this is a chance for them to learn as well, and that it’s okay if they don’t know everything. Staff should feel comfortable telling the youth, "We're learning this together."
It's also helpful to set aside some time for program staff to work with your affiliate's technology staff or consultants. Tech staff will need to make sure firewalls don't block the websites that youth use for ICT4me. For Unit 3, while program staff will do the design and building of websites with youth, tech staff will be needed to make the websites live and enable the chat feature.
If your staff are not enthusiastic about technology and don’t feel they have expertise, you may need to hire a new staff person with more of an interest in technology.
If you have senior staff imlementing ICT4me
It's fine to have more senior staff members implement ICT4me, if it works for your affiliate. Be aware that when staff are working with the youth, they will need to be free of other responsibilities— it's difficult to answer the phone and also support the youth.
© 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.