• Mt. Hood Community College Teams up with iUrban Teen to Create iCode

    G etting teens interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) - related classes can be difficult, especially so for teens who lack access to vital pieces of technology, such as to computers or the internet. Since 2011, iUrban Teen, a national non-profit organization, has enrolled low-income minority teens in an effort to engage them in STEM programs through a hands-on approach.

    This past winter iUrban Teen partnered with Mt. Hood Community College for a class based around teaching students to build intermediate-level web pages. The result of that partnership became the iCode program, which saw its first group of students successfully complete this past June.

    Designed as an intensive 12-week program for students between the ages of 13-17, iCode was offered one day a week - Saturdays - and homework was given to students. Focusing on both HTML5 and CSS languages, iCode emphasized teaching real-world skills, such as those used in the field by web design professionals. By the end of the class, students learned the techniques and skills necessary to build a fun and creative website for themselves. Those who completed the program also earned college credit.

    "Between the direct contact with students and an efficiency in delivery, we were able to move students almost as far as a 'traditional' class," said MHCC's information systems and technology management professor Dr. Wayne Machuca, who assisted in creating the iCode program. "One unknown which became a most surprising outcome was that we were not sure how much homework students could tolerate. As it turns out, students actually hoped for more homework and additional challenges."

    Now MHCC and iUrban Teen are looking to the future, including offering the program in upcoming months at different days and lengths and offering different programming languages, as well as recreating the program at other locations and with other colleges.

    "This partnership with Mt Hood Community College is a game changer and a win-win for iUrban Teen, MHCC and our families," said the founder of iUrban Teen Deena Pierott. "It's more than the usual programs of learning how to code online in isolation, or a one day 'learn to code.' This is engaging our iUrban Teens a learning experience over time, in a collaborative group with instructors who know how to empower teenagers."

    Discussions are also under way for recreating the program around other fields, such as iMap, which would focus on GIS mapping and data, or iSpeak, focusing on public speaking.

    Partial funding for work on the iCode project came from the Carl Perkins Act, which is designed to help provide vocational-technical education programs and services to youth and adults.

    For more information about iCode visit iurbanteen.org or mhcc.edu