IBM puts teachers in the classroom

As part of its Women in Technology program, IBM Canada Ltd. recently pulled 30 teachers out of their classrooms to become students for a day.

The program brought together teachers from the Greater Toronto Area who had little experience with computers and taught them to create a Web site. In turn, these teachers will bring this knowledge back to their classrooms, focusing on piquing young girls’ interest in technology.

Kelly Masci, an information developer for the DB2 Universal Database at IBM in Markham, Ont. and leader of the workshop, said that it is key to interest younger girls in technology, and maintaining that interest throughout elementary and high school and into university.

According to Masci, grade seven and eight girls who had previously participated in workshops thought that computers were “geeky, nerdy and for boys,” however, girls in the fourth grade thought that computers were fun and cool.

Joanne Moore, the technical resources program manager for the IBM Toronto Laboratory said that programs such as this are an investment in IBM’s future.

“My job is attracting top talent to IBM, retaining them while they’re here and developing them. IBM prides itself in a diverse work force, and that means we’d like to see more women getting into IT,” she said.

Richard Kranjec, a computer teacher at the elementary school level in Toronto, said that it is his hope that teachers will start computer clubs for girls within schools, as many schools have started reading clubs for boys.

“We want to grab their attention so that they will want to continue through school with IT,” he said.

The response to the event was positive and when asked most teachers said that they would take the information back to their students.

Susan Rabbior, a grade four, five and six ESL teacher at Whitehaven Public School in Scarborough, Ont., said she appreciated the opportunity to try her hand at creating a Web page.

“I certainly will try it with my class,” she said.