Magazine article AMLE Magazine

Planning and Implementing a Student Technology Team

Magazine article AMLE Magazine

Planning and Implementing a Student Technology Team

Article excerpt

Fourteen enthusiastic members of Warsaw Middle School's student technology team (STT) reflected on their recently completed first year:

"I learned that patience is essential and if they don't get something the first time, try a different method."

"I taught my peers and teachers how to use Google Sites, Docs, and how to change screen resolutions and colors when plugged in to a projector."

The team, with bright yellow and blue tie-dyed t-shirts with their name, Techno Wizards, splashed in bold print across the front, came together last September as Warsaw's first STT. What exactly did the Techno Wizards do that first year?

* They learned Google Sites to assist their teachers and classmates with this new student portfolio platform.

* Each week, several helped their advisor teach an elementary school technology class.

* They demonstrated their learning to parents at the annual Parent Information Event.

* They offered after school workshops on Scratch.

* They hosted after-school workshops on multimedia and digital citizenship.

In all, these students devoted about 720 hours during the year to helping their fellow students and teachers-18 hours per week-which is just about the equivalent of a half-time teacher!

A Coordinated Effort

Every so often an idea comes around and we ask, "Why doesn't everyone do that?" That is exactly how I feel about student technology teams. Every school has students who are skilled, prepared, and waiting to teach and assist their peers and teachers using technology and digital media to promote learning. No organization would ignore the skills and abilities of 95% of its members, but that is exactly what schools do when they do not ask students to contribute these skills to their school.

Many schools have students who help their peers and teachers when asked-connecting and operating LCD projectors and troubleshooting hardware and software issues. But the benefits of a coordinated effort of students and teachers through a student technology team can benefit every school.

One-to-one laptop/device programs, BYOD (bring your own device) programs, increasing use of tablets and smartphones in the classroom, online and hybrid learning, e-textbooks, digital citizenship-how do teachers or a school with only one tech person meet the learning needs of all students and teachers given the addition of technology integration? Of course the answer is easy...they do not. To be successful, schools must use the talents, enthusiasm, and knowledge of their students.

A year ago, with a deep interest in student technology teams as a way to provide more resources to schools, I investigated STTs through the literature and visited several technology teams in my home state of Maine.

In Maine we've been extraordinarily fortunate for the past 11+ years to have the Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI), which provides all seventh and eighth graders and their teachers with laptops. As more and more schools follow Maine's lead and provide or facilitate technology for their students, the need for more help becomes clear. Teachers and tech leads cannot do everything themselves!

In a study of student technology teams, one thing became very clear: it's easier to begin student technology teams than it is to sustain them. The "model" described here is based on my informal research of programs in 10 different states- essentially all the information I could find about STTs.

Components of an STT

Tech teams vary from school to school. …

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