The ten commandments of school tech support
- Thou shalt test the fix.
- Thou shalt talk to actual students and teachers and make time to watch how technology works during actual class time, not just when it’s quiet.
- Thou shalt not make fun of the tech skills of teachers or students, nor allow anyone else in the tech department to make disparaging remarks about them.
- Closing trouble tickets shalt not be thine highest calling; thou shalt strive to continually make the learning environment better.
- Thou shalt not elevate the system above the users.
- The network will be never be perfect. Learning is messy. Get thyself over it.
- When teaching someone a new skill, keep thy hands off the mouse.
- Thou shalt listen to requests with an open mind and respond in plain English.
- Blocking shall be controlled by educators, not filtering companies. Thy job is to enable learning, not enforce behavior.
- Thou shalt include students and teachers in decision-making about technology purchases and policy. Their interest is not an affront to your professionalism.
There’s a new blog in town about 1:1 schools, aptly named the 1:1 Schools blog. Scott McLeod of Iowa State University is the organizer of a group of authors who blog about issues, resources, and the special needs of 1:1 schools. I’m happy to be on the team!
Many of our GenYES and TechYES schools are laptop schools. The philosophy of putting the power into student hands with a laptop fits nicely with empowering students to improve education school-wide!
So naturally, my first post for the 1:1 Schools Blog is about student support of laptop programs. Not just tech support, but support for planning, implementation, and teachers. How can students do this? Do students do this? Yes they can and do in schools around the world!
In most schools, students are over 92% of the people in the system, and they are certainly the ones most affected by any change. Yet we often overlook them when we plan and implement visionary efforts like going 1:1. This does not have to be – students, if allowed to participate, can be powerful allies and evangelists for your laptop revolution.
Read the rest of Students – your best allies and evangelists for your 1:1 program at the 1:1 Schools Blog.
Today, introductory courses in computer science are too often focused merely on teaching students to use software like word processing and spreadsheet programs, said Janice C. Cuny, a program director at the National Science Foundation. The Advanced Placement curriculum, she added, concentrates narrowly on programming. “We’re not showing and teaching kids the magic of computing,” Ms. Cuny said.
via New Programs Aim to Lure Young Into Digital Jobs – NYTimes.com.
Science Notes 2009.
Professor Sapna Cheryan led her student into a small classroom in Stanford University’s computer science building. Star Wars posters adorned the walls, discarded computer parts and cans of Coke clustered on a table, and a life-size bust of Spock perched on the desk. “Sorry about the mess,” Cheryan said. “Just ignore that stuff, it’s not part of our study. Here’s your questionnaire. Let me know when you’re done.”
The student took a dubious look at her surroundings and raised her pencil to answer the question: “How interested are you in computer science?”
Cheryan, now a psychologist at the University of Washington, has placed students in situations like this for nearly five years. She has found that women rate themselves as less interested in computer science than men in the “geek room” described above. But in a room decorated more neutrally with art posters, nature photos, and water bottles, their interest levels were about the same.
A few years ago one of our GenYES advisors told me that he was very proud of the fact that his student tech support team was over 50% female. But it wasn’t always that way. He said that it took time and effort to change the culture of the team, but the thing that made the most difference was that he remodeled the “tech room”. He took down the video game posters, brought in a couch, and cleaned it up. His advice to other advisors was that this little thing mattered. He wasn’t sure at the time it was a big deal, but now he’s sure it changed everything.
What does your classroom or clubroom say about who belongs there? And if you aren’t sure, ask some students.
It’s back to school time again in the US! Time for fresh new school supplies, backpacks, or maybe some new laptops?
Student Support of Laptop Programs – new laptops? old laptops? Are you getting the benefit of making students allies in your laptop initiative? Peer mentoring, student-led training on new hardware and software, student tech support and other ideas can be time saving, cost effective, and best of all, good for students and the whole learning community.
This whitepaper contains research, case studies, practical information that you can use right now, whether you have one cart or are a 1:1 laptop school.
Student Support of Laptop Programs (PDF)
Update – this offer is now expired. You can still get the e-book for $9.95 (or $7.95 if you are an ASCD member) using the link below. Still a pretty good deal if you ask me!
Last November, our Working with Tech-Savvy Kids article appeared in the ASCD magazine Educational Leadership. The good news is that Ed Leadership is one of the best magazines around for thoughtful articles about education. The bad news is that these articles are not freely available on the website.
But now, ASCD is offering ebooks with article collections with a short period of free access.
Better yet, I was very pleased to find out that Working with Tech Savvy Kids was selected for inclusion in a new ASCD ebook entitled Engaging the Whole Child, the first in a series of Whole Child ebooks. Educating the Whole Child ebook – free download link (valid April 15 – May 6, 2009)
As part of ASCD’s Whole Child Initiative, ASCD wanted to share with a larger audience—including preK–12 educators, policymakers, and parents—some of the fine articles on the topic of engagement that were originally published in Educational Leadership in 2006–2008. From April 15 through May 6, 2009, readers will be able to access these articles through a free ebook download. After May 6, sample chapters will be posted on the ASCD Web site and the complete book will be available through the online store for a small fee.
Educating the Whole Child ebook – free download link (valid April 15 – May 6, 2009)
Don’t miss the window to download the ebook for free! Please share this link with friends and colleagues.
Update: Thanks to all the commentors who helped debug the link errors. They seem to be working now. The basic problem was pilot error, compounded by the fact that this is a LARGE download (366 page PDF) and the ASCD site seems to be very busy. Enjoy!
This weekend I’ll be in San Diego as an invited speaker at the National School Board Association (NSBA) conference. I’m not sure I realized how relevant it would be when I proposed Successful, Sustainable Strategies for Technology Integration and Tech Support in a Tough Economy as my topic last year.
I’ll be focusing on 5 strategies that create strong local communities of practice around the use of technology. All of these strategies include students as part of the solution. They are:
- Technology literacy for all – Creating an expectation that modern technology will be used for academics, schoolwork, communication, community outreach, and teaching. A key success factor is teaching students how to support their peers as mentors and leaders.
- Student tech teams – The 21st century version of the old A/V club, this strategy expands the definition of tech support from fixing broken things to also include just-in-time support of teachers as they use new technology. This digital generation is ready, willing and able to help improve education, we just need to show them how.
- Professional development 24/7 – The old idea that teachers would go off to one workshop or a conference and immediately start using technology has been proven wrong. Truly integrated technology use requires a bigger change than that, and it doesn’t happen overnight. Teachers require more support in their classrooms that they can count on when they need it. Students can help provide teachers with this constancy and supportive community.
- Students as stakeholders – Whenever schools initiate new technology programs, there is typically a call for all stakeholders to be included. Parents, teachers, staff, board members, and members of the community are invited to participate — but rarely students. Even though students are 92% of the population at the school, and are 100% of the reason for wanting to improve education, their voice goes unheard. Students can bring passion and point-of-view to the planning and implementation of major technology initiatives. They can be allies and agents of change, rather than passive objects to be changed.
- Students as resource developers – Students can help develop the resources every teacher and student needs to use technology successfully. These resources can be help guides, posters, instructional videos, school websites, or teacher home pages. Students of all types can use their talents to build customized resources for their own school. Artists, actors, and techies can contribute to this process.
Building a self-sufficient community of technology users means that whenever possible, you build home-grown expertise and local problem-solving capability. This is the high-tech equivalent of a victory garden, only with teachers and students all growing their own capabilities with each other’s help.
In this tough economy, no one can afford to ignore the potential students have to help adults solve the problems of technology integration and support. Students are there, they just need adults to teach them how to help, and then allow them to help.
And after all, aren’t these the 21st century skills everyone talks about? Like solving real problems, learning how to learn, collaboration, and communication? How real is the problem of technology integration, and how foolish of us to overlook students as part of the solution, especially when the reciprocal benefits to the students are so great.
PS – For a look at how these strategies can be applied in laptop schools, download my new whitepaper – Student Support of Laptop Programs. (16 page PDF)