Illinois School for the Deaf – STEM Course – Pilot

Web Design STEM Course gets started.

For over a year, I looked to try to find a school for the Deaf we could work with. My belief was that there was no reason why someone who was hearing impaired could not thrive in a career in Web. I called Mark DuBois up (Head of WebProfessionals.Org), and I told him I wanted to do a pilot using our Web Design. Mark and his association team immediately agreed. Not only did they agree, but they also offered to match our pilot gift with gifting the industry certification exams as well. Ya gotta love Mark and his association.

STEM Pilot School – ISD

One day, after some months trying to get some local schools for the deaf to listen to the offer, I got a call from Mark. Mark was very excited, not unusual. He was at a conference, also not unusual. He called to say he was sitting beside the CTE Principal of the Illinois School for the Deaf Jill Bruington. Now, this was unusual. He called to find out if he could make the pilot offer to Illinois. Naturally, I said yes. A week later, we were doing webinars with the Illinois SD team, and my team was off to finish the last of the closed captioning of the course’s over 150 tutorial videos.

In the webinar training, we met the two professional educators who would be making this all happen at ISD; Lana Shea (Junior High) and Bruce Baccus (High School). They went through our training and began teaching the Web Developer course in August. Lana and Bruce were terrific teachers to train and are great to work with. Both are eager to give their students all the advantages they can and prepare them for where their career choices take them.

Visiting with the STEM teachers of the Web Design course at ISD

Mark and I visited Illinois School for the Deaf and spoke to both Lana’s and Bruce’s classes. We also spoke at the school’s monthly “literacy Lunch.” It is a beautiful school with great students and awesome teachers. Everybody was warm, friendly and smiling. We both had a great time.

STEM Literacy Lunch – Illinois School for the Deaf

BTW – ISD is huge. An incredible campus, well kept with plenty of room for the students. The campus puts some small colleges I have visited to shame.

Mark, always the educator, asked Both Lana and Bruce about teaching and their experiences with the course. Below are some excerpts and more of their responses are in the Web Professonal’s newsletter. Check out the link at the end of this post.

Web Development STEM Course – Teacher’s Point of View

STEM PIlot Program - Lana Shea

STEM PIlot Program – Lana Shea and her Middle School Web Development Class

Lana Shea said – “Offering our students free access to the web design class has made them feel special that they were targeted for this offer, has opened up new worlds/concepts that have engaged them, and has provided employable skills.” She then went into more detail. She raised these main points. “Problem Solving. Way too many teachers (and parents) provide algorithm training (you put this number here, then carry this number down, then bring this number up) rather than understanding. Kids given a worksheet with 10 division problems may succeed, but give them 1 word problem and forget it. Coding is problem solving. You know what you want the code to do and you compare that with the output and then you problem solve- not some unrelatable, abstract, contrived problem, but rather a natural, spontaneous, motivating, personal goal. Empowering……”

Bruce added these thoughts as well “From my students’ point of view the new web design course at the Illinois School for the Deaf is important for several reasons. This course is providing them with an incredible intellectual challenge. They are developing and improving their creative writing and communication skills; they are learning logic and program coding skills; and they are developing a sense of appreciation for design aesthetics and graphics design. They are learning how to work collaboratively and look at a project from a point of view other than their own. They are learning how to ask questions that will elicit information that is critical in the early phase of the web design process.

STEM Educators Steve Waddell, Bruce Baccus, Mark Dubois,

They have deduced that the primary purpose of an interview between a web designer and a client is more than a gathering of facts and information about a client’s business. They have learned that the primary purpose of an interview between a web designer and a client is to discover the truth about a client’s business, his core message, and the value of what he is offering to his customers.
In addition to all of the benefits that come from the thinking and creative elements of the web design course, my students realize and appreciate that they have been offered a great opportunity. If they successfully complete this course, they can earn industry certification and credentials as web designers prior to graduating from high school. Not only is this important to my students, it is potentially life changing…”

From my point of view as a teacher, the new web design course at ISD is important for some of the same reasons. Even though I have decades of experience as a teacher of deaf students, I had almost no knowledge or experience with web design prior to this school year…The opportunity to guide my students through both collaborative and individual learning experiences that are new and challenging is one of the keys to a robust and vibrant learning environment. One of my philosophies about teaching is that it’s not about what’s best for me, it’s about what’s best for my students. Because this new course is a great opportunity for my students to learn and grow intellectually and creatively, it has therefore become a great opportunity for me to do the same. As a veteran teacher, this is very important to me.”

STEM Course and Industry Certifications

How Mark sees this course. “Students enrolled in the web design class are exposed to the full realm of skills necessary for future success, and it’s not limited to coding. The concept of soft skills, such as effective communication, problem-solving, articulating, conceptualizing, and visualizing are explored.”

STEM Course Pilot Visit

STEM Course Pilot Visit – Bruce Baccus’ High School Web Development Class

If you want to read the whole newsletter article by the WebProfessionals.org, then click below.
The WebProfessionals.org Newsletter

If you want to see how you can have the course mentioned in this post at your school, then click the Contact Tab at the top of this page or go to Web Design with HTML5/CSS3 Industry Certification Course

At the time this post was written all the the students in both classes we expected to complete the course and sit for their certificate or certification exams. We know Ms Shea’s middle school students will be receiving their STEM Web Development Novice Certificates from the Web Professionals in March and we expect the Mr. Baccus’ high school students to sit for their industry exams later in the spring semester.

We’ll post some updates later about the ISD pilot and the students’ success.

Have Fun – Steve