Practical Matters of Adding More Technology into the Classroom

One of the largest difficulties in bringing sixty or more new computers into a school is that it significantly increases the workload of all tech support staff at a school. In order to circumvent the unwelcome stress and extra work associated with maintaining so many new computers, the Academy of Discovery Model harnesses the power of student passion and expertise. The ADM prescribes a format of student tech support that allows the students to gain valuable 21st century skills, while providing a vital service to the classroom. By teaching students to maintain and troubleshoot problems with technology, the Academy of Discovery can have experts in every room, ensuring that everything works without the teacher having to waste valuable classtime trying to figure out what went wrong.

Helping with Technology Integration

Many teachers feel that they must always have a Plan B for whenever they use technology in the classroom, just in case it doesn't want to cooperate during that particular lesson. This makes more work for the teacher, while creating an attitude of teacher vs. technology rather than a union of the two. This is easily fixed by having student tech support readily available. If students can work on problems even before they occur during class time, teachers will be free to experiment and try new forms of technology integration without having to plan for the inevitable breakage of that technology.

Creating Mentors

Much in the same way that the Douglas County Educational Foundation has created the Digital Educator Mentorships, the Digital Learner Mentor Program is meant to create an avenue for students to teach one another educational use, effective use, and acceptable use of technology in the classroom. They can do this within a peer relationship that creates an environment of ownership and learning. Students are much more likely to learn how to be self-sufficient from a peer than a teacher; they may let a teacher fix a problem on their computer, but they will learn how to fix the problem themselves from a peer.

Digital Learner Mentorships also serve as one of the cornerstones for professional development with technology in the Academy of Discovery. Students are always finding new and more efficient ways of doing work on a computer, and this knowledge should be shared and cherished among the teaching staff. In this mentorship role, both students and teachers become learners. Both have a greater understanding of the needs of 21st century learning, and both have a greater capacity for changing the classroom to meet these needs.

An Active Role for Students in the Technology Action Plan

The Digital Leaner Mentorships are more than a fluid arrangement of students who are good at working with technology. They are a codified role with privileges and responsibilities. Students will take part in a TA (teacher's apprenticeship) elective or advisement before they can become an official mentor. This will allow for a uniformity of understanding of the role among mentors. They will also all have a basic set of troubleshooting processes to work from initially. Creating a "class" for students lets them develop their own technology integration projects and document their successes with tech support within the Academy. All of these roles will be further defined in the Technology Action Plan as outlined in Generation Yes' Article, Vision to Action.