Schools: Tech Jobs Call for Learning Shifts

We all know how important technology is in our daily lives. Have a question? There’s probably an app that can answer it. Music, news, phone, camera….technology is becoming increasingly integrated into every aspect of our lives. It makes sense that we will need more and more folks to not only come up with these ideas but also to design and implement them. It also makes sense that we need to shift our classroom strategies to teach these skills.

With more than 400 high-tech companies according to one survey, Lane County is increasingly becoming a technology hotspot for young professionals.Local tech firms added several hundred workers from 2012 to 2013, and are expecting to grow more, with the average wage for a high-tech job more than $60,000 a year.

“Thisis exactly the kind of job growth we want to see here in the Willamette Valley,” says John Tamulonis, Springfield’s economic development manager.

It makes sense—after all, we’re just up the interstate from Silicon Valley. Withgreat schools and several excellent two- and four-year colleges in the area, Springfield provides an appealing alternative for young professionals to the high rents and crowded neighborhoods in San Francisco and Seattle.

In fact, some have already offered a nickname for our area: “Silicon Shire.”

What this means for us, of course, is jobs, jobs, jobs. A recent visit to, a site devoted to sharing tech job opportunities, yielded more than 50 tech-related job opportunities just in the Eugene-Springfield area. However, many of these local tech firms are saying they do not have enough local qualified applicants to fill job openings.

With increasingly dire news about graduates struggling to find work, it’s clear that we need to do a better job of preparing students for these lucrative careers right on their home turf.

“We know we need to focus on preparingkids for a tech-centered world and 21st-century jobs by giving them access to the tools and resources they need,” says Tom Lindly, Springfield Public Schools director of technology.

Lindlywent on to quote from the district’sevolving Technology Plan, which spells out the district’s goals in detail:

“Learning and living in an ever changing 21st century requires that students be fluid digital citizens — learning, adapting, and applying new technology skills on an almost daily basis. This means that as a district, we must strive to provide access to technology for our students.”

The detailed plan calls for incorporating technology-rich projects into the curriculum that allow students to learn and use a variety of techniques and tools to solve problems. Suggested strategies to achieve that goal target issues of access, professional development, school vision and afterschool programs, as well as hardware systems.

Unfortunately, this decade’s budget crises have left schools scrambling to teach fundamentals with limited tools.

“We’ve been able to use funds from grants and special programs to implement some of these ideas in pockets around the district,” says Lynn Lary, instructional technology specialist for the district. “We know what we need to do. Now we just need to give all of our students access to these opportunities.”

The district’s technology plan is available for viewing at