21st Century Tech Camp in Perry County

There are growing concerns over young people forgoing the values and civility they’ve been taught when they are online … in the “virtual world.” But shouldn’t students’ real-world values apply when they’re online?

For teachers Daniel Whitt and Beth Sanders, a common vision and concern for the evolution of technology into learning environments has driven them to create a summer program in Perry County intended to make students content creators, not just audience members of the Internet.

“We are motivated largely by concerns that our youth perceive a different value set online than they do in all non-digital settings, and we believe that digital citizenship is best promoted in public schools,” which they say is the purpose for creating Youth Converts Culture — The Perry County Project, set to be held July 16-20 in Marion, Alabama at Judson College.

Whitt, who has taught English and broadcast journalism at Liberty Middle School in Madison and will move to James Clemons High School in the fall, worked with his students to create the “I’m Human” video that has since gone viral on YouTube.  It was his work that inspired this effort in Perry County.

Sanders, who teaches social studies at Tarrant High School near Birmingham, sets a high bar for teachers who want to integrate technology and social media into their classrooms. Last year, Sanders’ class connected with students from St. Joseph College in Connecticut using Twitter and Skype through the iCitizen project to bridge the physical gap between them. Her class also participated in the DefineAmerican project to generate discussion about what it means to be an American. The latter project led to several of her students contacting, via Twitter, a reporter for Weld for Birmingham, who wrote about the class project and linked to their video.

The two teachers are working with A+ Education Partnership and its Alabama Best Practices Center division to organize the camp, and the cost is underwritten by the current class of Leadership Alabama.

“The concept was to find a high-needs, low, socio-economic area that would benefit most from this project,” Whitt is quoted as saying in this Huntsville Times story on the “I’m Human” video and the Perry County camp.

The camp will include six teachers and 25 students from in and around Perry County, but the hope is to increase the size next summer.

For more information on Youth Converts Culture — The Perry County Project, check out their video letter to students and teachers in Perry County, or contact Thomas Rains at [email protected].