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Digital Skillscast

Oracle Education Foundation & Design Tech High School: How Volunteers Make It Work

By Nate Riggs on Sep 1, 2017 1:31:30 PM |


You're in for a good one this week at the Digital SkillsCast, a podcast where we interview a new guest who is working to close the digital skills gap. These guests are professors, school administrators, or business leaders who are lighting the path to digital transformation in their industry.

If you didn't catch Part One of this three part series, here's what you missed:

Last week, we talked to Rob Bolt and Colleen Cassity about the design high school, or d.tech, that the Oracle Education Foundation is spearheading. 

The Oracle Education Foundation is a nonprofit organization funded by technology giant, Oracle. OEF pairs talented Oracle employees with high school students to teach them in various STEAM disciplines.

Rob is one of the founding members of d.tech. He is in charge of developing partnerships with local area corporations and is currently working on founding partnerships with companies to find potential internships for students at d.tech. This role is what directly connects him, and d.tech, to the Oracle Education Foundation. 

Colleen is the Executive Director of the Oracle Education Foundation. She joined the foundation in 2002 and helped get it kick started. Today, Colleen oversees the Oracle Giving and Oracle Volunteers programs, which donate time and funds to nonprofits around the world.

This week, we talk to two of the volunteers that help make d.tech what it is. These volunteers from Oracle leave their day jobs and work one on one with high school students to close the digital skills gap first hand. 

Without further ado, we bring you part two of our three part series about the Oracle Education Foundation and the work they're doing with their design high school.

The Oracle Education Foundation

design high school | oracle education foundation

Last week, we learned that public and private partnerships in education, when done well, can have an amazing impact for students. Part of d.tech and OEFs success was thinking outside the box in terms of the school calendar.
By throwing away the concept of a traditional academic calendar, students and volunteers moved to a schedule that allows for 2 week "breaks" where students work with Oracle employees in workshop settings to apply what they are learning about design thinking to solve real-world problems.

The Volunteers Making It All Happen

Vineet Mishra | design high school | oracle education foundationOne of the volunteers helping to teach kids design thinking is Vineet Mishra. Vineet is a Senior User Experience Designer at Oracle and started with Oracle in August 2016. 

He started as a UX and UI Designer at Ahold Nederland, one of the world’s largest food retail groups, and a leader in supermarkets and e-commerce.

A product of Sri Shankaracharya College of Engineering. & Tech. in India, Vineet studied Engineering, Electronics, and Telecommunications. He fine tuned these skills into his niche passions with a Masters of Fine Arts and Visual Communication from the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Vineet's role at d.tech is to facilitate content and ideas among students. The volunteers ask questions that the students may not have thought about while they were developing their concepts. By encouraging them to think outside of the box, volunteers like Vineet help to encourage design thinking and creative problem solving. 

Practice What You Preach

MargaretErrington | design high school | oracle education foundationMargaret Errington is a Linux and VM Principal Alliance Manager at Oracle. She was formerly with IBM in numerous positions. 

Margaret identifies herself as having duel roles – one as an Oracle employee and one as an OEF volunteer, even though we learn that the two often go hand in hand.
Shes been involved in helping not only to coach and mentor the students at d.tech, but also on the planning team that has designed some of the curriculum around the two-week workshop experiences. 
Margaret played a major role in developing a Wearable Technology workshop that was led by women across all aspects of Oracle. By using design thinking concepts, much like the way that students are taught to approach learning, they created a curriculum that had all aspects of product development like design and project management. 

You're Probably Thinking, "What Is Design Thinking?"

In last week's show, Rob Bolt defined the concept of design thinking in terms of what it takes to get teachers to adopt the approach in their classrooms. But what is design thinking at its core?

According to Vineet, design thinking is making decisions based on what users and customers really want. Even if they dont explicitly say it, design thinking uses cues and implications from user testing to determine what problems consumers need solved.

At Design High School, design thinking is a core value and is practiced heavily. Volunteers and teachers within d.tech make sure to facilitate opportunities for students to identify, meet with, and interview their target users. Students then use this information to develop their concepts and prototypes. 

But Wait, There's Even More...

We have one more episode centered around OEF and d.tech, so be sure to stay tuned over the next couple of weeks. We will be talking to the most important piece of this design high school, one of the students at d.tech. 

the digital skillscast

The Digital Skillscast

Nate Riggs

Written by Nate Riggs

Nate Riggs is the Founder and CEO of NR Media Group, a Certified HubSpot Partner and inbound consulting firm. He leads a team of experienced strategists, content marketers, creatives and technologists that help organizations deploy and use HubSpot’s marketing, sales, and service software to operate more efficiently and accelerate growth. Nate regularly presents keynotes and workshops at top industry conferences like INBOUND, Content Marketing World and Oracle’s Modern CX. In 2017, Nate was recognized by HubSpot for his contributions to the development of the HubSpot Education Partner Program. Nate regularly presents keynotes and workshops at top industry conferences like INBOUND, Content Marketing World and Oracle’s Modern CX. In 2017, Nate was recognized by HubSpot for his contributions to the development of the HubSpot Education Partner Program.