The Wilderness Technology Alliance
The Wilderness Technology Alliance (WTA) partners with schools and community based organizations to implement technology training and work-based learning programs where students and volunteers gain skills in the classroom and experience by providing valuable technology products and services to their school or local community. The WTA also trains teachers, students and community leaders to operate technology service-learning programs and Community Technology Centers (CTCs) in their schools and community organizations.
Most programs are run as “WildTech” student enterprises that generate revenue to self-sustain and grow. This makes learning relevant and highly motivating. It addresses critical technology, citizenship, business management, entrepreneurship and employment training needs. The WTA supports these programs with on-going training, surplus technology, wilderness leadership camps, WildTech annual conferences and more.
Providing Leadership and Technology Skills together with Work-Based Learning that Leads to Employment and Entrepreneurship in the Technology Sector – all in a self-sustaining way.
Understanding the “Virtuous Cycle”
The WTA’s programs are based on igniting a virtuous cycle (see diagram below). Youth are initially trained in technology and business skills (trained students), who then form school-based student-run companies that mobilize their curricular learning in work-based learning to produce marketable products that are sold to customers, which generates the resources (revenue and experienced students who become teacher’s aides) needed to repeat the cycle and grow.
It is essential to understand how this cycle works, as all WTA programs are based upon it. It is the “DNA” that allows our programs to self-generate and self-replicate once they are implemented — empowering teachers, students and schools to entirely new levels. Referencing the picture above, “Startup Funds” are first used to build the foundation by providing schools with essential technology infrastructure (generally computer labs with software), digital literacy and ICT vocational curriculum, business skills training curriculum, and teacher training. The cycle is then ignited in three phases.
In phase one, teachers train students in digital literacy skills, technology vocational skills, and business skills, becoming “Trained Students” ready to learn more through work-based learning.
In phase two, “Trained Students” form school-based student-run enterprises (SBSREs) that mobilize their curricular learning in technology work-based learning to produce “Needed Products and Services”. In the process, students gain advanced technology skills, project-management skills, and confidence for employment. Younger experienced students may become teacher’s aids and leaders of SBSREs in the next cycle, thereby making schools less-reliant on tech-savvy teachers, who are often recruited by other schools or the private sector once trained.
In phase three, products and services are sold to “Customers” to generate the resources needed to repeat the cycle and grow. In the process, youth gain the marketing, accounting and leadership skills, as well as confidence for employment and entrepreneurship. Younger experienced students may become teacher’s aids and leaders of SBSREs in the next cycle.
Once the cycle is implemented, students are simultaneously “Pushed” (see diagram) to learn through curricular learning and work-based learning, while customers (corporations, government agencies, NGOs, etc.) are “Pulled” to procure products and services from the SBSREs, often by explaining that by targeting their procurements from SBSREs, they are not only getting what they want, but are pulling a child out of poverty, also called “Impact Sourcing.” In this way the cycle begins to “rotate”, and through successful operations, can self-accelerate.