Creativity, adaptability, and innovation are some of the defining qualities of the students of Design Tech High School (d.tech). Oracle has a deep relationship with this pioneering California public charter school—we built a home for them on our campus in 2018. The school’s mission is to develop students who believe that the world can be a better place, and that they can be the ones to help make it happen.
Schools around the world shifted to distance learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and d.tech was no exception. With design thinking being a core practice, the entire school has been resilient and adaptable in its approach to learning. To enhance the distance learning experience, d.tech created a schedule that allows students to cycle through three courses at a time instead of the usual six, allowing them to focus in more depth on fewer subjects. In addition, staff are being equipped with new technology to produce high-quality virtual learning experiences.
The Intersession program is one of the defining d.tech educational experiences. Three times a year, students explore new disciplines and industries through classes offered by local nonprofits, large and small businesses, and individual professionals. Students can choose from a wide range of classes such as exploring insect science with an entomologist from Stanford University; understanding how to build fire-resistant homes with help from local architects; and learning coding, physical computing, and human-centered design skills from the Oracle Education Foundation. Throughout the pandemic, Intersession has continued virtually.
Design thinking is an empathy-based approach to problem-solving that involves iterative prototyping, which is central to d.tech’s curriculum. By using the tools of design thinking across all academic subject areas, d.tech students learn to create the change they want to see in the world. Students are also deeply interested in finding ways to make a difference, and d.tech’s design-thinking curriculum was developed to support innovation in areas including global health, the environment, and racial justice.
Oracle Volunteers always feel at home at d.tech. Beyond their involvement in Intersession, Oracle Volunteers donate their time and talents to support students year-round. These activities include engaging students in sustainability discussions, helping students develop presentation skills, serving on college and career panels, signing up as Spanish-language conversation partners, and even using their skills to develop a software solution for scheduling the Intersession program.