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EduTech Partners with Women, IT National Center, Code.org
North Dakota Ag Connection - 01/11/2019

North Dakota's EduTech, the K-12 educational technology arm of the state's Information Technology Department, has established formal partnerships with the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) and Code.org. The partnerships help advance statewide efforts to provide computer science and cybersecurity training and resources to North Dakota's educators and students.

NCWIT is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating access to authentic, inclusive computing education for every girl in the United States. Code.org is a nonprofit dedicated to expanding access to computer science in schools and also to increasing participation by women and underrepresented minorities.

"As a father, empowering all of our students and inspiring curiosity by promoting technology in the classroom is incredibly important to me," said Chief Information Office Shawn Riley. "These partnerships enable our teachers and students to explore the endless career opportunities that exist in a world where virtually every industry is being impacted by technology."

The partnerships are part of an ongoing statewide effort involving more than 40 organizations from North Dakota's educational, workforce, military and information technology sectors to create a multi-faceted, comprehensive approach to computer science and cybersecurity education and workforce training, termed "K-20W."

The NCWIT alliance creates new opportunities for the state's K-20W efforts, including increased awareness about technology awards for teachers and students, social media kits, participation in professional development conferences and leveraging the network of more than 200 NCWIT partner organizations.

Code.org will help provide training and resources to K-12 educators. Elementary school educators were provided training in six locations throughout the state in November 2018. Additional training opportunities for elementary educators will take place this spring, and training for middle and high school educators will be scheduled for this coming summer.

"For North Dakota parents, having their children know how to write software code is almost as important as teaching them to read, write and do math," said Kirsten Baesler, North Dakota's state school superintendent. "We at the Department of Public Instruction are developing academic content standards for computer science and cybersecurity, which will be ready in time to use in the next school year. These standards will better prepare our young people to manage the technology of tomorrow and equip them for the high-paying jobs available in computer science and cybersecurity."

To provide the trainings with Code.org, EduTech will work with Technology and Innovation in Education (TIE), Code.org's regional training partner. Microsoft's TechSpark North Dakota initiative will provide facilities for TIE to facilitate the trainings.

"We are proud to partner with EduTech and TIE to expand Code.org's trainings. This effort will help get more teachers teaching computer science, which is a crucial subject our students need to succeed in the digital economy," said Taya Spelhaug, Microsoft TechSpark Manager for North Dakota.

"Computer science encourages critical thinking and gives youth the tools to create and invent -- skills that will help them in their careers and bring more innovation to our state."EduTech worked with Microsoft TechSpark to sponsor the state's first simultaneous, statewide Hour of Code in December 2018 with more than 6,000 students participating across 100 schools. Separately, EduTech partnered with the National Integrated Cyber Education Research Center (NICERC) last year, which certified EduTech as its first-in-the-nation official training partner.

The North Dakota University System, one of the more than 40 partner organizations supporting the K-20W Initiative, is also expanding partnerships, course offerings and computer science-related activities like the GenCyber camp held at North Dakota State University last summer.

"The digitization of our society and economy require a massive increase in the number of computer savvy students and researchers, and eventually, workforce," said NDUS Chancellor Mark Hagerott. "But to reach the digital potential of our state, we require more women and minorities to pursue programing and computing in K12, which eventually benefit our digital programs in the North Dakota University System. The exciting new partnerships with NCWIT and Code.org are so very important to building a prosperous and more equitable digital future for the people of our state."

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