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VCSU hosts Dakota Digital Academy Bootcamp



Valley City, North Dakota – This week at Valley City State University (VCSU), a group of sixteen educators found themselves back in the classroom, despite the fact that the majority of educators are spending the summer taking advantage of the pleasant weather.

K-12 educators participated in a two-day IT/Cyber boot camp that was organized by VCSU. The DakotaDigital Academy (DDA) and the Northern Information Technology Consortium (NITC) worked together to put on the program, which brought everyone together in the lower level of the Vangstad Auditorium.

Together with her fellow employee, Elizabeth Lasch, Janet Bartels, who teaches mathematics at a high school in Wahpeton, North Dakota, enrolled in the course. The two spent the first morning of Lasch’s high school computer class working with several programming languages. Lasch offers computer lessons at the high school level. The students got their hands dirty by writing code for simple robotic cars as a way to gain expertise in a variety of programming languages.

“It’s something I’ve never done before,” Bartels said. “We were working with circuits which was interesting.”

Both Bartels and Lasch reported that they recognized connections between the morning session and the goals they had set for their classroom. Programming, mathematics, and other aspects of general computer abilities can all make use of abstract ideas like the order of operations and logical processes. They also believed that some of their students could find it interesting to participate in activities such as using programming to direct a miniature car.

“I think some of my students would be really interested in this because it’s hands-on,” Bartels said. This type of activity is teaching more than just math concepts, she explained. “We are teaching students to think, and to use that higher level thinking around problem-solving.”

According to Dr. Yang Du, an instructor and assistant professor of computer systems and software engineering, using a car kit in the programming session is a fascinating method to integrate skills into the real world.

“Teaching programming to calculate things like overtime payments can be unappealing for students, but this is fun,” he said. Other topics covered during the bootcamp include cybersecurity, the internet of things and networking.

“Although each topic is usually covered in full semester classes,” Du explained, “the bootcamp is designed to be a fun and quick overview of these topics for teachers of all levels.” “I think it’s good for everyone to get the basic concepts,” Du said.

The Dakota Digital Academy was formed to assist in providing access to education, training, credentials, and expertise that are all related to the digital and cyber spheres. It is a cooperative effort amongst the several campuses that make up NDUS, carried out in conjunction with a limited group of corporate and business partners.

You can register for the bootcamp or get more information about the study modules by going to the 2023 Summer Bootcamp page on the Dakota Digital Academy website.