By Scott Campbell
It’s been an exciting year for CompTIA Spark in 2023. More than 200 schools started using the CompTIA Spark middle school curriculum and many more are in the queue to bring project-based tech learning to more than 3,000 students. TechGirlz, powered by CompTIA Spark, continued to bring out-of-school education to thousands of young girls and we produced several research reports and other content all with the ultimate goal of getting students excited and engaged around tech. Here’s a look back at 10 highlights from the year:
Many young people already are thinking about their career choices and more than two-thirds (69%) even have an idea of the path they’d like to take, according to the CompTIA Spark Student Perspectives of Technology and Careers research report. Students have some interesting—and enlightening—views on their reliance on technology, their perception of tech’s direction and why they might consider careers in tech.
Read more and download the full report.
Similar to the study on student perceptions, CompTIA Spark also captured the feelings of parents in a separate study. In some cases, the difference between students’ and parents’ opinions is startling—such as more parents think their children are considering a career in tech than the students themselves.
Henry Mann, senior director of product development at CompTIA Spark, discusses why tech education in middle grades is so important and how school districts and teachers can keep students interested in technology.
“Tech is not just about a certain set of careers, but about all careers. Tech is part of every job, everything from agriculture and mechanics to more traditional jobs like medical or engineering. It’s quite pervasive,” Mann said. “So, whether a student sees a future for themselves in the tech industry or not, it’s important that we start to expose them to technology as early as possible.”
As cyber threats become more sophisticated, it is essential to equip the future generation with the knowledge and skills needed to protect themselves and society. "That's where cybersecurity education for young students comes into play," writes CompTIA’s Chris Johnson, who lays out the benefits and key components of a cybersecurity education program.
"By equipping students with the knowledge and skills to navigate the digital landscape safely, we can create a generation of responsible digital citizens,” Johnson wrote. “It is essential for schools, educators, parents and organizations to work together to prioritize cybersecurity education and ensure a secure future for all.”
Fair or not, the stereotype of the so-called computer “nerd” is pretty well entrenched in society, as is the belief that young women are not interested in technology. In excerpts from his book, “How to Launch Your Teen's Career in Technology: A Parent's Guide to the T In STEM Education," Charles Eaton writes about these and other so-called myths in the tech industry—and why it’s important to dispel them.
The journey from being digitally literate to digitally fluent can be critical to students’ success—which makes middle grades the ideal time to start developing the skills necessary. CompTIA Spark’s mission is to help the transition from literacy to fluency by focusing on three main areas: creating engaging and interactive content, emphasizing digital creativity and integrating relevance to the real world.
Learn more about the strategy to develop more digitally literate students and citizens.
The mission of CompTIA Spark is to create curricula and programs that can help students be more tech-fluent, confident and engaged. But it can’t be accomplished alone. The organization relies on the support of partner organizations, school districts, teachers and volunteers to be successful.
Read more about how Kate Kerr, senior lead researcher at Monzo Bank in the UK, and Rebecca Levy, foundation director at Spectris Foundation, discuss why it’s important to support tech learning programs.
CompTIA Spark’s strategy to develop a middle-school curriculum based on project-based learning models is no accident. Project-based learning can help students improve test scores, but perhaps more importantly, it helps young people develop confidence in their abilities and teachers to engage more with students, according to Leslie Eaves, program director of project-based learning at the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), an Atlanta-based non-profit compact that works with 16 Southern states to improve public education for students.
Learn more about how CompTIA Spark has engaged with SREB on shared goals to help schools better prepare students for the future.
No matter your industry, level of career or location—every organization today relies on tech. In fact, about 92% of jobs definitely or likely require digital skills, according to the National Skills Coalition. And it’s a number expected to keep climbing. CompTIA Spark developed a “Did You Know” article that helps explain to students the importance of tech skills—no matter what path you choose.
TechGirlz, powered by CompTIA Spark, has served more than 40,000 young girls in 25 different countries. This year, the organization completed an impact study of TechGirlz alumni to gauge their views on everything from TechGirlz programs to school tech education classes to what they think about careers in tech. For example, 78% of TechGirlz participants are considering or may consider a career in tech and eight in 10 have been encouraged to do so, according to the study.
It takes a lot of people to make CompTIA Spark, TechGirlz and all the programs and initiatives be successful. MJ Shoer, CEO of CompTIA Spark and chief community officer of CompTIA, wrote a heartfelt thank you to everyone who helped CompTIA Spark get to where it is today—and where it can go in 2024.