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Microsoft TEALS Program: Technology Education and Literacy in Schools
Microsoft TEALS Program Technology Education And Literacy in Schools
Microsoft TEALS stands for Technology Education And Literacy in Schools. The Microsoft TEALS Program Technology Education And Literacy in Schools was initiated by Harvard graduate and Microsoft employee Kevin Wang in 2009 when he was asked to help the Issaquah High School in Seattle save the institution's computer science program. He agreed, as teaching was not new to Wang who previously taught computer science at a high school level for three years. Microsoft learned of Wang's efforts and agreed to help finance the endeavor along with offering the assistance of their technicians.
The TEALS program recruits, mentors, trains and assigns tech professionals from various locations in the country to act as volunteer computer science instructors in high schools. The schools where the tech savvy volunteers assist are typically having difficulty finding teachers for their computer science departments. From one school receiving Wang's help in 2009, the program now spans 131 schools in 18 different states. More than 5,400 students gain the benefit of learning from nearly 300 volunteer instructors.
Today, Wang trains the TEALS instructors. His team consists of professionals who are considered the top in the field. The level of expertise they offer often cannot be presented by high schools because teachers do not have the same level of education and experience. Few of the tech specialists have teaching experience. In this case, Microsoft instructors co-teach classes with a certified teacher in each school. The faculty members help with administrative duties, grade assignments and the general aspects of managing a classroom. The school teachers are also receiving CS training from the instructors in hopes that they can carry on the efforts that TEALS members start.
TEALS instructors offer three classes during first period so as not to interfere with the work week of Microsoft and other company tech employees. The classes include Introduction to Computer Science and Web Design, which last one semester each. An Advanced Placement Computer Science A class lasts the entire school year. The classes are designed to spark interest in the field and to accommodate the needs of the students. Students at some schools have had the opportunity to learn programming and devised games or apps for smartphones. The schools are not financially burdened by bringing TEALS to their facility. Donations and other funding makes the program possible.
Is TEALS necessary?
Studies indicate that the country has too few computer science graduates in a field that is ever-expanding. On an annual basis, there are an estimated 80,000 openings in the CS field. By the year 2015, research estimates that there will be 1.5 million CS related employment options available for graduates. The number will continue climbing through 2020. However, with the limited number of students striving to earn a degree in computer science, only 29 percent of these positions will be filled. In 2010, less than 40,000 students acquired bachelor’s degrees in CS.
At the high school level, only 10 percent of schools offer computer science classes. Economic problems in the last decade caused many schools to cut budgets and classes. Today, computer science is considered an elective if schools have the resources to have the classes at all. TEALS provides the chance for students to learn more about CS. The program's instructors hope that the classes that they provide will improve the number of students entering college to earn degrees in the field of computer science.
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We were hosted by Microsoft to attend the Imagine Cup finals and to explore the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Washington. This is one in a series of posts. To see the complete series, start here: