As teachers, we are typically very honest with ourselves in recognizing that the students can often understand and utilize any new technology quicker than us. In fact, many of us ask a particular student in our class each time a piece of tech isn’t working how we expected. Not only that, these students are often eager to help fix it. In these cases, it is not that the student is hoping to avoid school work, but genuinely wants to help because he or she has a passion for technology and cares for the teacher and the class’s success.
With this in mind, Loveland High School has begun their own Web Help Desk, but run by students! For those unfamiliar with Web Help Desk, this online program is used for Thompson staff to request help with technology issues and receive quick responses from our Innovative Technology Services team. In this course, students with an interest in tech and a desire to help others are working to problem solve issues for LHS staff and students.
As a collaborative effort, Loveland High’s Assistant Principal, Marc Heiser, and ITS’s Client Services Manager, Andy Larkins, started this course as a way to place students with a passion for computer maintenance and service to others in an authentic and empowering environment. With Thompson School District and Loveland High School’s emphasis on Work Habits, they felt that this course would develop the “soft skills” that are so highly valued in today’s careers, such as interpersonal communication, critical thinking, and general troubleshooting.
In the opening weeks of the course, students were trained on the Web Help Desk system and in technology maintenance operations by ITS technicians in individualized or small group contexts. They were shown how to identify issues in projectors, printers, staff and lab computers, and other common and vital pieces of hardware in the school. But the students were also trained on how to communicate with staff members regarding the technical issues and how they can continue to support the staff going forward.
One of our district’s many highly trained and experienced ITS technicians, Don Cochran, expressed his enthusiasm in being involved in the implementation and success of the course. “Offering students the opportunity to learn tech skills in real world applications has been a goal of mine for about 5 years,” Don explained. “I have also received some very positive feedback [from the staff]… I was pleasantly surprised by their acceptance.” Don recently spent time training one of the Web Help Desk students, Brody, on fixing a library printer jam, followed by the replacement of a classroom projector bulb. Brody stated how much he enjoyed computer maintenance courses in previous years and is excited to be able to put that knowledge to practical use. Once he finished fixing the printer and projector issues, he quickly jumped back on to the Web Help Desk program and searched for more problems to resolve.
On other occasions, Don and the rest of the technicians have utilized the hardworking students in preparing iPads for a nearby elementary school, resolved issues with Promethean boards, and reestablished network connections on staff and student computers. In fact, some students are emerging as “go-to techs” with particular issues.
Recognizing that other schools may be interested in integrated a similar course, and knowing that all of our district schools have passionate and tech savvy students like Loveland High School’s, Don provided some advice in getting started. “Designate a devoted area for the students to use that is not accessible to other students. I would also recommend requiring teacher recommendations… [and design it like] a real life job interview.” And as they did with this course, ITS is happy to provide off-site training at the Support Services Center to show students the process from a district perspective.
If you are interested in getting the idea started at your school, feel free to contact Marc Heiser at LHS, and Andy Larkins and Don Cochran of Innovative Technology Services. It’s always exciting to see the fantastic work and ideas that Loveland High School and other Thompson School District students have to offer.
Loveland High School image courtesy of @lhstweets
By Joe Zappa, @edtechtsd