Externships for Educators

June 20th, 2017

When an idea, a lesson, or a concept is met with real-world experience, a magical sweet spot of understanding is born.

And that’s the underlying premise of Nextech’s Educator Externship – a 5-day, immersive, professional development activity where educators spent time inside local workplaces to gain firsthand knowledge about trends, skills requirements, and opportunities within multi-industry computer science jobs.

At Nextech, we find it’s often difficult for teachers in the trenches to fully understand or appreciate the full range of dynamics that exist within the tech industry. And conversely, we understand how vital it is for tech companies to share knowledge about what their future employees need to learn to successfully transition into tech careers.

From June 12 – 16, we were pleased to provide that vital bridge between education and action for 18 CS teachers.

And our educators couldn’t agree more:

“I never knew a software development company existed in Indianapolis – not to mention venture capitalist funded start-ups. It was exciting to see that over the past decade, Indianapolis has moved to the forefront of the tech boom.”

“We were given time to create our lessons from the concepts that were showcased this week. This was enlightening in so many ways. You think you have an understanding, but the old adage holds true: If you know it, you can teach it. We learned that we needed to delve more deeply into the concepts to be able to create a more valuable and relevant lesson.”

But the benefits of the program don’t stop with just one lesson plan. Educators were equipped with real-life stories of computer science professions – the kinds of stories that help connect interested students to the world of tech career possibilities.

Educator participants had this to say:

“One of the areas where I struggled most was how to effectively design a program. I would teach kids flow charting and algorithmic design, but those lessons seemed superficial. They seemed like something I didn’t really envision as design. My experience today solved that problem. I now have a much better instructive understanding of  how to help students think about their projects before diving into the coding aspect.”

“My experience enabled me to see how even students who are interested in something that may seem unrelated – such as fashion – still need to have an education that includes computer science. I also learned how warehouses and manufacturing centers are tied into the tech industry. Every student – even those students who may not be college bound – still needs computer science education. It will always be relevant.”

Perhaps the biggest and most important lesson that came from the Educator Externship is this:

Content Knowledge + Context + Community = Confidence

Nextech’s teaching partners can learn techniques for improved computer science education. Full educational confidence, however, remains elusive without the support of industry partners to provide both context and a sense of community.

We’re happy to be that bridge.

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