Independence hopes to foster tech ed

INDEPENDENCE — Students in second grade may end up filling jobs that haven’t even been invented yet, said Independence Economic Development Director Shawn Irvine.

“How do you train kids to be adaptable, to be problem solvers, to be critical thinkers, which is basically what you need to be to have the skills for a job that you don’t even know what it’s going to be,” Irvine said.

Enter the Innovate Oregon initiative by the Technology Association of Oregon Foundation. The foundation designated the city of Independence as an Innovate Oregon city, which will help bring training and resources for educators to foster an environment of hands-on, critical thinking learning — using technology.

Teachers become more like mentors, helping groups of students come up with a real-world problem, Irvine said.

“They break into teams and research the problem, propose some potential solutions, discuss which ones make sense, which ones are feasible, which ones aren’t,” Irvine said. Then, students design a prototype solution.

“They do this focused on learning coding as well,” he said. “Obviously, tech companies are trying to train future tech workers. The reality of our society is it’s becoming more and more tech. It’s never going to be a bad thing to know a little coding and how coding works.”

The learning model isn’t going to be right for every classroom, particularly because it is more problem-based, not test-based, Irvine said.

“A lot of what (the foundation) is talking about is after-school programs,” he noted. “After-school programs, they can do anything they want. You don’t have to have performance criteria and all that.”

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