In an incredible moment in the history of the U.S. Virgin Islands, the territory’s first fully fledged IT Academy has marked its first year of existence! St. Joseph Catholic High School on St. Croix hosted its first IT (Information Technology) Showcase in May, allowing students to demonstrate their new skills and knowledge. A survey just released by the program coordinators indicates overwhelming support for the program and a unanimous recommendation to fellow students!
The first year of the SJHS IT Academy provided Cisco Certified Entry Level Technician (CCENT) and National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) hands-on training. The courses focused on network configuration and the safe use of hand and power tools, respectively. In addition, students received training in creating professional resumes, safety, blueprint reading, and life skills to round out the curriculum.
The students rated their perceived skill level once completing both courses, with at least half of the respondents feeling proficient in both. In the networking course, of 7 respondents 57.1% felt Proficient, while the remaining 42.9% felt they had acquired Basic skills; while in the construction course, of 10 respondents, 50% felt Proficient, 20% felt they had acquired Basic skills, and the remaining 30% classed themselves as Learners.
Rating the Construction Core, participants rated the overall training Good (80%) while 20% found it Excellent. On the topic of the Construction Core books, 70% found them Good, 30% found them to be Excellent. 60% rated the Construction Core Exhibition as Excellent, while 40% rated it Good. 70% felt that one class period per day was sufficient to teach the course, 30% preferred two. 70% of those responding gave the learning experience for Construction Core a Good score, and 30% found it to be Outstanding. When it comes to the use of tablets during the course, 70% of those responding found this to be Very Important, while 30% found it to be Important. 60% found the Virtual Classroom to be Excellent, while 40% found it to be Good. When asked if they wanted to continue with the IT Academy, 90% said Yes, while only 10% said No. 100% of those responding would recommend the course to their classmates.
For the Cisco Networking course, the rating for overall training given was Good – 85.7%, and 14.3% Excellent. The exact same scores were distributed when they rated the Cisco Academy texts. For the Annual IT Competition, where students had to create, configure and test a virtual network the score was 57.1% Good, with Excellent receiving 42.9% of the vote. When asked how many daily class periods would be sufficient for adequate training, students voted 28.6% for one, 28.6% for two, and 42.9% for three periods. In terms of the learning experience, Outstanding received a 57.1% score, and Good received 42.9%. 57.1% of the vote said tablets in the class room were Very Important, and 42.9% went to Important. The Virtual Classroom received a 57.1% Excellent rating, and a 42.9% Good rating. When asked if they wanted to continue training in the IT Academy, 71.4% went to Yes, while 28.6% indicated No. However, when asked if they would recommend this training to classmates, 100% of those surveyed said Yes.
When it came to the Excellent/Good/Bad ratings, there were no votes for Bad in any of the categories where this would have been indicated.
The first year of the IT Academy at St. Joseph Catholic High School presented students with stimulating challenges, in an environment that is much like real life. It was clear from our visit to the IT Showcase, that collaborative and personal relationships were formed, soft skills developed, and that students could clearly see the value of the IT Academy – they overwhelmingly gave the thumbs up to its continuation, and to all students having access to this experience.
The next year will be devoted to the Computing Technology Industry Association, or CompTIA Network+ (for wired and wireless network configuration, maintenance and troubleshooting) and Fiber Optic technology training from the Fiber Optic Association (FOA).
viNGN is a sponsor of the first cohort of the St. Joseph Catholic High School IT Academy along with partners Innovative, Broadband VI and VI Waste Management Authority; the academy is truly preparing the next generation of Network Defenders, clearing a track to 8 certifications in 4 years, that will be recognized anywhere in the world. To view more information about the IT Academy, visit the IT Academy page for SJCHS online