KidSmart Early Learning Program
KidSmart Early Learning Program introduces disadvantaged pre-schoolers to technology. The program ensures children who might not have access to technology at home, become confident technology users before they reach school age.
KidSmart units consist of colourful Little Tikes furniture, a PC and educational software. An independent evaluation of the KidSmart Program in Australia has shown that children participating in the program have improved their sharing, listening and cognitive skills.
Each KidSmart centre also benefits from teacher training workshops run by our partners, Departments of Education and expert not for profit organisations. The workshops introduce teachers to the technology and explore ways of effectively integrating KidSmart into their teaching programs. As part of this training, teachers are encouraged to create peer networks, increasing their confidence by sharing new ideas and information. These networks extend into Asia Pacific, with IBM providing opportunities for Australian and New Zealand KidSmart teachers and early childhood education experts to transfer learnings from these programs to teachers in countries such as China and India.
Over 1,279 centres have received KidSmart units, more than 1919 teachers have received KidSmart training and over 25,580 young students have been helped with their literacy and numeracy; and the development of language, social and creative skills. KidSmart has been very successfully integrated into indigenous education programs in NSW, WA, SA and NT.
To complement the KidSmart program, IBM has developed an online global resource for parents and teachers. The website contains ideas and strategies for introducing young children to technology and to enhance their learning. It also offers the capacity for teachers to contribute new ideas and strategies, again promoting shared learning among pre-school teachers worldwide.
KidSmart installation at the Infants Home
One area in particular in which IBMers have a long history of supporting primary, secondary and tertiary students is through mentoring. Mentoring offers an alternative avenue of support for these young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Online mentoring with The Smith Family
Since 2002, IBM Australia and our not-for-profit partner The Smith Family have worked together to deliver an online mentoring program called i-Track for school-aged students. iTrack supports senior high school students from financially disadvantaged areas in their transition from school to work, by pairing them with IBM mentors who offer experience, encouragement and advice.
The 20-week program begins with students meeting mentors at an IBM location, enabling them to experience a 'real' workplace. Following the visit, they communicate online through a series of online chats, projects and activities, looking at topics such as leadership, careers and pathways, inventions, and the role of technology in society. At the end of the program, IBM mentors visit the students at their schools.
“IBM has been an invaluable partner of this program, providing dozens of high quality mentors for us to match with participating students each year. Our team really enjoys visiting IBM offices to interview interested staff, to hear about their professional and personal experiences, and then match mentors with students. We really couldn't have got this far without each one of those volunteer mentors - thank you IBM!”
The Smith Family's Volunteer Relationship Manager, Lauren Stocker.
IBM volunteers from VIC, NSW, QLS, SA and WA support the program and to date have mentored more than 850 students as they consider their post school plans.
“My mentor taught me that everything is possible if I believe in myself.”
Introducing Secondary School students to the World of work
The Foundation for Young Australians' Worlds of Work (WOW) program is a national initiative that builds the skills and beliefs that young people need to make successful transitions into life beyond school. IBM was a key supporter of the program in it's inception in 2008 and supports the program by hosting student groups and providing IBM volunteers within their corporate office environment to mentor students and provide advice around what it takes to succeed in the worlds of life and work. This year IBM will host over 500 students across Vic, NSW, QLD and WA.
“IBM is a vital part of the WOW program. Not only do they model best practice in partnerships and engagement with the community, they have a lasting positive impact on the young people we work with. We at the Foundation for Young Australians have seen this impact first hand. Students have decided to stay in school; they have gained confidence in themselves and their abilities and have felt valued by the community at large. IBM's culture of supporting the community is having an impact on Australia; we thank them for contributing to the future of Australia's youth.”
The Foundation for Young Australians
Tertiary mentoring with Victoria University
IBM volunteers also mentor tertiary students through the IBM-Victoria University final year mentor program. Victoria University matches IBM volunteers with final year IT students to provide guidance on post-university plans. To date, IBM volunteers have mentored over 200 VU students. More than 90% of students who secured jobs after the Program state that their IBM mentor significantly contributed to their employment. Career mentors offer an alternative avenue of support for these young people assisting them to with their work/career transition.
“Our students tell us that their IBM mentors offer them an eye-opening real-life insight into industry knowledge, current trends and the professional environment. As the Program Coordinator, I see a vastly improved level of student self-belief after their mentoring catch-ups - this Program is a real winner for VU. ”
Victoria University - Program Coordinator
VU-IBM Career Mentoring Program
EXITE (Exploring Interests in Technology & Engineering) Camps are an IBM initiative to help fuel young girls' interests in taking science and math classes throughout high school and to help them understand how rewarding technology and engineering careers can be and how they offer opportunities to be creative, to become a leader and to give back to the community. IBM Australia has held 22 annual EX.I.T.E (EXploring Interests in Technology and Engineering) Camps since 2001 with the support of state Departments of Education to encourage young women to pursue studies in engineering, information technology and science.
“Can I come next year - the Camp was so cool. I didn't realise there were so many jobs in IT.”
QLD EX.I.T.E. student
Some students at an EXITE Camp
Story Writing in Remote Locations (SWIRL) in partnership with Victoria University
IBM continues to support SWIRL (Story Writing in Remote Locations) which began in 1997 in partnership with Victoria University. The program increases student literacy in remote outback aboriginal community in Australia's Northern Territory. The Victoria University team, along with groups of student teachers from the University, visit remote sites and implement literacy programs which reflect the community's activities and lifestyle.
SWIRL has been extremely successful in increasing student attendance and improving literacy. Importantly it has helped place teachers in the remote communities who on average stay in the community for 2 years compared with 7 months for other teachers.
In 2011 IBM supported the program to include Victorian schools in the development and enhancement of its activities. By placing the undergraduate teachers in a Victorian school for semester one, a relationship can be developed with the remote Indigenous students prior to SWIRL student teachers arriving there. This will enable Aboriginal children in remote communities to share their cultural understandings, their day to day living, and their knowledge with mainstream children in schools thousands of kilometres away. Teachers and community members in each location, will use their technical skills such as video conferencing, to work together across great distances, and teach "combined" classes across different schools.