Wilderness Technology Alliance Annual Report

2016 continued to be a year of transition for the WTA, placing increasing emphasis in three areas:

  1. Low income schools in the United States. This includes collecting high quality surplus technology from generous corporations and government agencies, refurbishing it, and providing it to schools.
  2. International Economic Partnerships Program, creating fair-trade relationships involving youth in USA schools selling crafts made by indigenous people in developing world countries (more details below).
  3. WildTech, the WTA’s flagship program it has pioneered for the past twenty years. It involves training youth in technology skills, who then apply those skills in work-based learning by creating and operating a technology company in their schools (more details below).

WASHINGTON STATE OPERATIONS

The WTA’s  Tacoma office  continued to provide technology products and training to  “Bridge the Digital Divide” for low income families and schools in Washington State.  We are now in the process of relocating this office to Woodinville, WA — stay tuned!

WASHINGTON DC

WTA created a partnership with the Community for Creative Non-Violence (CCNV) and launched WildTech/CCNV, a high technology company operated and managed by the homeless. It is located in the CCNV, the largest homeless shelter in the United States, just three blocks from the US Capitol building. WildTech/CCNV continues to provide free technology training classes for the homeless as well as computers and leadership programs. The WildTech-CCNV leadership continues  to manage the facility essential on its own, refurbishing computers, providing a computer access lab for the shelter and providing technical support services.

MARYLAND

The WTA’s new office in Maryland will become  the center of activity for authoring grants, building domestic and international partnerships, and creating programs. This especially  includes two flagship programs: WildTech Student Enterprises and International Economic Partnerships (see below).  The programs are actively being promoted to low-income schools in the USA and developing world countries.

The WTA will continue to increase focus on international operations through the Cycle of Transformation program, both in Tanzania and expanding to other African countries.  It is in the process of selecting pilot schools for the rollout of the International Economic Partnerships program.  The WTA also plans to focus domestic support on USA schools, providing affordable technology and support.

WildTech Student Enterprises
  A Self-Sustaining Pathway to Technology Employment & Entrepreneurhip

WildTech is a comprehensive, self-sustaining program in secondary and vocational schools that improves student learning, increases employment and creates technology entrepreneurship – all through technology training, work-based learning, and linkages to real market opportunities. It involves partnerships the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Trade, major technology firms, and the WTA.  During WildTech’s 20 years of development, both in the USA and developing world, we learned that intensive character and leadership training, combined with technology and entrepreneurship training, creates a unique bonding and skill-set that enables youth to gain employment and to launch successful technology companies.  The partnership establishes a low-cost, self-sustaining, self-replicating “virtuous cycle” that leads to nationwide transformation.

Each school gets a 20-station computer lab with printer, LAN, and projector
Teacher & Student-Aid Training Program to Implement New ICT Curriculum
Schools Implement a Digital Literacy Curriculum during the first semester and the Business & ICT vocational skills curricula below in second semester
Business Skills Training1 Semester(Required) ICT Voc. Training: IT EssentialsCisco & A+ Cert.(Optional) ICT Voc. Training: Android App Dev.Certification TBD.(Optional) ICT Voc. Training MultimediaCertification TBD(Optional)
Trained Students Start School-Based Student-Run Tech Companies, applying skills from ICT vocational classes to work-based Learning, producing and selling valuable technology products and services:·         Selling & Servicing Computers, Tables, Mobile Phones and More·         Training Services: Intro to Computers, Excel, Word, PPT, Internet, More·         Digital Video Production, Web Design, DeskTop Publishing, Video·         Android Application Development

The training phase begins with 5-7 schools, expanding to 15-21 schools in the second year. The program triples in size annually (see right).

  • Computer Labs provided to schools (June)
  • Teacher/student teams created and trained to deliver digital literacy curriculum (July)
  • Schools Implement Digital Lit. Class
  • Teacher/student teams trained to implement three ICT Vocational Curricula: Computer Sales & Service, Multimedia (web, video, desktop publishing), Android App development (Nov)
  • Implement ICT Vocational Classes leading to industry standard ICT skills certifications.

Armed with these skills, a self-sustaining “virtuous cycle” (see diagram) is ignited:   “Trained Students” establish student-run companies in their schools to produce “Needed Products & Services” for their communities, which are then sold to “Customers” which generates resources to train more students, and the cycle repeats and grows.  In the process, youth gain work-based learning skills in technology, marketing, accounting, leadership and more.  Experienced youth become qualified as teachers (student-aids) in the next Cycle.  Thus, WildTech generates the resources needed to sustain and grow: teachers (student aids) and revenue, making it viral and eventually transforming entire nations.

 

Besides the elements above, the program implements programs and events benefitting the targeted schools and the entire nation.  Often, these address larger, nationwide issues that are too difficult for students and even schools to impact. This includes a web-based “Employment Portal”, a comprehensive job matching, contract matching, on-line learning, mentor matching and program information portal used by employers, job seekers and work contract seekers.  It also includes an annual national policy summit to raise awareness and address issues on youth employment, as well as national/regional job summits to help youth secure jobs and contracts for school-based student-run companies.
Armed with technology, business, life skills, certifications and experience, youth graduate and quickly gain employment or start their own technology companies. Teachers and experienced student leaders from multiple school-based student-run enterprises eventually create a Career and Technology Student Organization (CTSO) that operates as a business franchise sharing best practices, policies and procedures – creating a distribution channel serving customers worldwide

 

International Economic Partnerships (IEP)

 

The United Nations recently identified that improving education and economic development are the two most significant factors in increasing child well-being. In a 2010 report, the World Bank identified that “ICT is the foundation of a knowledge-based world. It allows economies to acquire and share ideas, expertise, services, and technologies locally, regionally, and across the world. It also contributes to making the global economy more integrated than ever before.”  Technology and the Internet also provide the ability for youth in USA schools to collaborate directly with youth in indigenous communities, creating unique learning opportunities and economic relationships that leverage the resources of both.  It also helps address America’s and the developing world’s most pressing problem in education: Learning that is motivating and relevant to the 21st century economy – which must include international engagements.

International Economic Partnerships (IEP) is an education and economic development program that can be customized for students of all ages.   The program utilizes constructivist methods and action learning by delivering training “just in time” during authentic project work, and “beginning with end” by challenging students at the very outset to:

  • create an international business venture together with an indigenous community in East Africa,
  • based on fair trade principals that leverages the unique resources of both,
  • that generates an income for the school, the students, and the indigenous community so it self-sustains.

The program then deconstructs and delivers the learning needed achieve this. The business venture involves importing and selling indigenous Maasai jewelry, and optionally, exporting and selling surplus USA technology.   Profits are shared in a fair-trade fashion between the USA school and the indigenous community or school that serves them.

Learning Objectives:

  • Social studies including a historical and cultural understanding of the Maasai and the challenges they face, as well as a political understanding of East Africa, government policies, and potential corruption issues they may need to address.
  • Geography including the location, climate, infrastructure and natural resources to better understand the context and challenges with shipping.
  • Mathematics focusing on business math including financial statements, break even analysis, balancing a checking account, and spreadsheets.
  • Technology skills needed to market and operate a social venture, including digital video creation (Windows Movie Maker, Paint.net & Audacity), desktop publishing (MS Publisher), and Web Design (Word Press). Note: Students should ideally have basic proficiency in MS Office applications and MS Windows.
  • Business, leadership, entrepreneurship skills needed to create and operate a business venture.

The Program

The WTA is currently collaborating with the White House and their “My Brother’s Keeper” program to pilot International Economic Partnerships” (IEP) in Detroit, Spokane, and Washington DC schools beginning in September of 2016. The WTA is now developing the IEP curriculum in partnership with a Washington DC area school, which will be completed by the summer of 2016.  It utilizes 21st century pedagogy including rich media, Skype,  MOOC,  NCSS and Common Core standards, and optional youth trips to Africa.

 

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