goIT is TCS’ experiential, immersive program that seeks to inspire students to study STEM, and in particular, computer science, while empowering them with 21st century skills. During their goIT journey, middle and early high school students work in teams to ideate, prototype, and pitch a digital innovation that solves or address one of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, which encourages students to design with empathy and create tech for good. TCS provides educators with and trains them to use a curated set of lesson plans and activities to get students started on connecting technology and Design Thinking concepts to core classroom subject areas. The curriculum is built to accommodate teachers both new and seasoned to technology concepts.
At the core of TCS’ community investment program is a firm belief in the catalytic power of partnership – one organization can’t solve a challenge alone. And more importantly, long-standing relationships are key to lasting change. In 2014, TCS and Toronto District School Board (TDSB) partnered to bring goIT curriculum to Grade 8 and 9 classes across schools in Toronto. The partnership was established with an introduction from the Canadian-based Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC), seeing a way to help TDSB close the skills gap in district schools. Schools were selected for participation by TDSB based on needs and access to STEM education.
Since the partnership’s inception, the program has evolved based on feedback from teachers and students. TDSB teachers wanted to be able to expand participation in goIT from grades 8 and 9 to K through 12, allowing more students to prototype app ideas that reflect their voice on how to solve the local community challenges problems tied to the SDGs. More TCS volunteers participated, bringing to life STEM education in an industry setting, and sharing their industry knowledge and career path with the students.
With the switch to remote learning as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the goIT curriculum became even more critical. TDSB teachers needed curriculum that would engage students, worked across subjects, and aligned with the TDSB global competencies, a set of skills that foster deep learning through engaging experiences that incorporate creativity, inquiry, entrepreneurship, collaboration, leadership, communication, global citizenship, character, critical thinking and problem solving. Since September of 2021, over 1,300 students in the TDSB participated in a goIT program and over 200 teachers became goIT facilitators.
The year-end celebration of student work, despite being canceled in 2020, was back on track for this past June. Teachers were invited to register their top team for the June event, although students were so excited to pitch their goIT app designs, several teachers asked to allow more than one team to participate. The turnout was so large, the program was expanded from one to two days to accommodate all the entries. Teams represented the full spectrum of TDSB, from Kindergarten to Grade 8, and even a few goIT Monthly Challenge participants and winners.
The goIT impact in the TDSB has been significant: since inception, the program has welcomed over 13,000 students, kindergarten through 12th grade. TCS has trained over 300 TDSB teachers as goIT Facilitators. The partnership with TDSB also sparked one of the newest elements of the program, the goIT Monthly Challenge, a recurring opportunity for students to directly engage in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through the goIT digital innovation. Be sure to check out the Monthly Challenges here: https://programs.tcsempowers.com/global/goIT/monthly-challenge.
Jobs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are predicted to grow in the next decade at a much higher rate than non-STEM occupations. Students are the next generation of leaders and changemakers and TCS believes inspiring students to pursue careers in tech now will create the change needed for the world ahead of us.