Boost IT Support with Student Tech Teams
Implementing, maintaining and managing districtwide technology initiatives with limited staffing is a common challenge for administrators. By using student tech support teams, district leaders can address these staffing needs, while providing students with expanded project-based learning opportunities.
This web seminar highlighted some strategies for creating student tech support teams in any district. An administrator from Lafayette Catholic School System in Indiana described how a student tech team is enabling school leaders to maximize resources and make better use of IT staff.
Jeffrey Botteron: We were bringing in about 600 iPads to move to a 1-to-1 environment. Of course, such a move requires more support personnel and better infrastructure, so we moved to one access point per classroom and management software to go with that. Then, we were introduced to FileWave as a good solution for managing our Apple products.
As we became busier with Wi-Fi problems across three of our four campuses and with implementation of the iPad pilot, we turned to our students. We asked, “Would you be willing to give up some time to provide support to your peers, so that we might be able to concentrate our support personnel on combating these Wi-Fi issues and on the iPad pilot?” And kids said, “Well, yeah, of course.” So we thought, “Well, fantastic. It’s a good match.”
We learned that our students are actually better at tier one support than we are. And it’s not because they know everything; it’s because they know how to talk to their peers. They were not only answering their peers’ questions, but they were also telling their peers how to prevent the same problem from happening in the future. So we were seeing fewer kids coming for support. It was a fantastic learning opportunity for us. And honestly, it was a good learning opportunity for our teachers and our administrators who were in the building and receiving the support.
So here’s the first tip: Start with a small pilot and demonstrate the proof of concept. If you launch with the end product, you’ll probably face a whole lot of skepticism. But if you start small and are able to show the hidden capacity and talents of your kids, you’ll get more buy-in.
To do that, you’ll have to address a fundamental security concern: how to give kids an admin password to student MacBooks and ensure that they do not share it with their peers. Part of the solution is building the culture, which begins with a code of ethics.
Kids have to understand that this is truly a privilege. They have to know that you’re putting a great deal of trust in them. To overcome the security concerns, we just re-emphasized that we had the ability to change passwords with a couple of clicks and in about 20 seconds by utilizing FileWave to remotely manage all of our devices.
Then, we had to decide how to get these learning platforms, including iPads and MacBooks, to the students. We just didn’t have that money as a school system. Then, we said, “What if we figured out a way to empower these kids to do more?”
“Start with a small pilot and demonstrate the proof of concept. If you launch with the end product, you’ll probably face a whole lot of skepticism. But if you start small and are able to show the hidden capacity and talents of your kids, you’ll get more buy-in. To do that, you’ll have to address a fundamental security concern: how to give kids an admin password to student MacBooks and ensure that they do not share it with their peers.”
We started with a summer tech internship. We invited four of the kids who were providing phenomenal levels of support during school to help us do a couple of things. We needed them to do the work of imaging 450 MacBooks. We needed them to unpack, configure and deploy the iPads to the three elementary schools. Then, we needed them to build all of the carts and help us hang some of the access points, projectors and whiteboards. The kids said, “Let’s do it,” and we got everything done.
Here’s one of the things that we found helpful: We loudly broadcast the stuff that our kids were doing and just how impressed we were. Our community started to ask questions, and there was buy-in after we published the first story. Make it visible. Make sure that others know what you’re doing. Celebrate the success of your kids. Elevate your leaders and incentivize their work.
Here’s the end result: Our kids get a phenomenal learning experience. We’ve come in under budget for three consecutive years. We have two recent graduates with full-ride scholarships. Kids are moving on from the tech team to bigger and better things in college. We do anything we can to support them. And part of that includes telling their story today, because all of what we’ve done would not have been possible without this incredible group of kids, as well as some trusting administrators and teachers.
To watch this web seminar in its entirety, please visit DAmag.me/ws021319