By Ramiro Zuniga, Ed.D.
Around this time last year, I wrote a post about what I found at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Conference held in Atlanta, Ga. The conference last year featured a large number of students, from around the world, who were seriously involved in technology in innovative ways. I was so impressed with the caliber of students who I met. Their eagerness to integrate technology, coupled with their desire to share their ideas and successes with anyone willing to listen, was absolutely contagious.
This year, the conference was held in Philadelphia, Pa. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend ISTE 2015. I did, however, make it a point to do some follow up. I was anxious to see what I missed.
Of special interest to me was the presentation by a student-run helpdesk at Burlington High School, Mass.
A student-run help desk is not a new concept in and of itself. I first saw a version of this as an undergraduate student at my local university computer lab. These Burlington High School students, though, are really doing something special.
One notable difference of this help desk is that they offer support to both students and teachers. All issues are addressed, whether hardware or software related. Support is provided to more than 1,000 devices at their high school.
Their support does not end at the help desk. These students are also tapped to create lessons that are used to teach others how to use an application.
These students also research upcoming technology tools and post their thoughts and findings to their technology-related blogs. They also maintain relationships with technology professionals from across the country. They often provide these professionals valuable feedback.
The skills and knowledge that these students possess benefit many beyond their school. They are often called to present at local and regional technology conferences. They also provide assistance to support community members.
This model has now been implemented at the middle school level. It is not surprising that this model is being emulated across the country. After all, this initiative has been well thought out and offers many benefits.
Of course, the real beneficiaries of all of this are the students. Learning occurs with every new situation that the students encounter. Confidence is built with every presentation given. A new level of respect is gained as each student resolves an issue.
The student-run helpdesk is just another example of the good things to find at ISTE. As I have indicated in the title of this and last year’s post, The Future Looks Bright.
If you have the opportunity, do yourself a favor and attend ISTE 2016. I am sure you will find many fine examples of high-level technology integration into the classroom.