Laid-off IT Pros Head to the Classroom

A government grant is helping 30 unemployed IT professionals in Georgia start new careers as high school computer science teachers.

With a $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation, the Georgia Institute of Technology's College of Computing has launched "Operation Reboot." The program pairs a laid-off IT professional with an existing high school teacher for at least one year, "allowing the IT professional to learn the ins and outs of a classroom, and the teacher to get an education in IT," the college said in a statement.

The IT professionals will receive an initial teaching certificate with a computer science "endorsement," an add-on that signifies special expertise.

"Through the teacher workshops at Georgia Tech, courses needed for certification, co-teaching and mentoring, we will transform these IT workers' identity into that of a computing teacher," said Barbara Ericson, director of the program, in the statement.

In essence, the IT pros get to team-teach with a business teacher who wants to learn how to be a computing teacher, according to a blog post by Mark Guzdial, a Georgia Tech professor and a researcher in computing education. "Both team teachers want to become computing teachers: One knows IT and wants to learn how to be a teacher, and the other is a teacher who wants to learn IT. The result isn't just 30 new high school CS teachers. It's 60 well-trained teachers," he wrote.

The program's broader goal is to improve high school computer science education over the next three years by increasing the number of classes, improving training and creating highly engaging curricular materials.

Georgia Tech will publish the results of the pilot project and share materials with other states.


Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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