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Apple-supported initiative prepares students, communities for jobs of the future
BIRMINGHAM (Feb. 27, 2020) — Education Farm (Ed Farm) – a ground-breaking education initiative focused on innovative learning strategies – was launched today in Birmingham. Showcasing three signature programs at its new downtown headquarters, Ed Farm will partner with educators in Alabama to increase educational equity, improve learning outcomes through technology and prepare the future workforce.
“As our society continues to evolve and advance, more and more job opportunities of the future will require digital skills, and helping our communities prepare for that is our priority,” said Chris McCauley, Ed Farm program director. “Our partnerships with Birmingham City Schools and the Birmingham community on the Teacher Fellows, Pathways and Student Fellows programs have already produced successful results, and we are thrilled at this initiative’s potential as it continues to move forward.”
Ed Farm will equip educators in schools and communities with innovative tools and strategies that support active learning for all students, including providing opportunities for students of all ages to learn to code using Swift, Apple’s easy-to-learn coding language. As part of its Community Education Initiative, Apple is providing Ed Farm with hardware, software, funding and professional learning support. Apple has granted Birmingham City Schools with more than 400 new devices being used in classrooms today.
“With the support of Apple, the city of Birmingham, the school system and corporate partners like Alabama Power, we are experiencing a real and needed step change in educational outcomes,” said Anthony Oni, chair of TechAlabama. “What’s being done here in Birmingham is transformational and can make a difference in how all schools incorporate creative innovation into education.”
TechAlabama is a 501(c)(3) organization that hosts the Ed Farm program and seeks to encourage and inspire children and adults to discover and explore technology, learn to code and pursue STEM careers.
Ed Farm is working alongside educators from 13 Birmingham City Schools for its Teacher Fellows program. Since July 2019, the Teacher Fellows have participated in numerous rigorous professional development experiences in Birmingham, Austin, Texas and Phoenix, Arizona. The program also provides teachers with access to curriculum, new technology and ongoing instructional support. The Fellows are now offering ground-breaking computer science and creativity courses in their respective classrooms.
Through the Pathways program, Ed Farm works with adult learners in Greater Birmingham to build digital skills, increase confidence with coding and promote attainment of post-secondary credentials. The program provides valuable introductory learning experiences for adults who are interested in filling or creating jobs of the future.
Pathways begins with an 11-week course focused on App Development with Swift curriculum and essential workplace skills activities.
After completing the course, participants are encouraged to pursue additional post-secondary pathways and credentials. Ed Farm encourages learners to pursue additional training experiences with Innovate Birmingham and Create Birmingham’s CO.STARTERS program. Ed Farm also promotes post-secondary computer science programs at UAB and Lawson State Community College. To date, Ed Farm has served dozens of learners in its first two Pathways classes.
Through Student Fellows, middle school students in the Birmingham City School system will engage in rigorous challenge-based learning experiences that solve community problems and build entrepreneurial skills.
For more information on Ed Farm, please visit EdFarm.org.
TechAlabama is a 501(c)(3) organization that seeks to encourage and inspire children and adults to discover and explore technology, learn to code and pursue STEM careers. The mission of TechAlabama is to increase the number of people in Alabama with an interest in STEM-based careers and help them develop the skills needed to pursue those careers. To help achieve its goals, TechAlabama’s core focus is on the promotion of STEM-based careers and opportunities to a diverse audience. The organization seeks to provide technology-focused programs that cultivate interest and ability in STEM careers.