Thursday, July 21, 2016

MCPS Students Progress Toward 21st Century Learning

Mecklenburg County Public Schools is moving toward the vision of students preparing for success with 21st Century careers and college. High school students from Bluestone and Park View have spent several weeks of their summer investigating and preparing for possible careers in advanced technology through a special CyberCamp. This program is the first of a series of career exploration programs that MCPS is developing in partnership with many business and civic groups. Others in development will be in healthcare, STEM, agriculture, law & leadership, and international business & arts.
2016 Cybercamp Students with Instructors

The students participating in the Cybercamp have been introduced to many aspects of advanced technology including basic coding, cyber-security, cyber-crime, and robotics. They are building robots and flying drones. They toured the Spy Museum in Washington DC, the Microsoft Plant in Boydton, and the Advanced Technology Center at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center. Technology specialists from Southern Va. Community College, the State Police, and the HP cyber-security center in Clarksville have taught them about their specialty areas of Internet safety. In the process, without necessarily realizing it, they have learned a lot of advanced math, computer science, important skills in communication and cooperation, and had a lot of fun! They have also discovered how many career opportunities are available in the field of advanced technology and what certification programs and careers are available locally.

These students are participating in a very important “informal education” program that they are finding to be most practical and impactful on their futures. No one is bored. Until now informal education programs were considered nice, but never part of school. Not with a 21st Century education. These experiences are now an essential component of school, connected directly to academic progress. The advanced math, science, vocational skill development, and soft-skill engagement are captured and levels of mastery are identified through the use of digital badges. Students keep up with their experiences through the online portfolio in MARi, their Personal Learning Platform, and the data is shared with teachers and career counselors through the school’s student information system.

The earlier students have fun participating in a variety of career focused, informal education experiences in camps and other activities the better they understand the connection between school and real-world-real life opportunities and responsibilities. This is much more motivational than SOL tests and the students learn much more! MCPS is seeking to identify and support informal activities related to all six of our career centers for all students. Congratulations to these young people for the great job that they are doing with this program. They are presenting final presentations of their work Wednesday, July 13th.

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