Our High School, Wellington College, has been using a model of student involvement in ICT. This has grown out of the School’s principle of actively engaging senior students in all areas of leadership.
The Tech Crew program, started in 2006, was based on a model that our sister school, Wellington Girls College, had initiated. A handful of tech savvy students were assigned to a group of teachers to assist and train them in the use of various software, hardware, web and any other teacher related ICT’s. This proved successful in that the students, as trainers, started to feel ownership of their school’s infrastructure as well as developing the skills to mentor. Teachers were very comfortable learning from students in the know.
This year the Tech Crew program has evolved into something more substantial. Our College has just completed a 3 year Ministry of Education funded ICT Professional Development cluster. Over the three years most staff have become more ICT literate, however we desperately need to be utilising the constantly evolving web-enabled tools which have fantastic potential to help improve teacher pedagogy and student learning.
This year the Tech Crew are working closely with me to help develop and enable these tools for learning in the College. The Tech Crew consists of 14 students most of which are seniors though some juniors are involved to ensure the program is sustained. These students have a wide range of skills which are targeted towards the various projects. Some examples are:
- Moodle Learning Management System – Our school does not yet have an official site. One of our Tech Crew members has hosted our development site on his server (based overseas). He handles the technical side while I manage the administration. Our Moodle site (rightclicklearning.co.nz) has managed to enrol over 400 students (1/4 of school) in courses in the first month. This success will see the school introduce an official school site for 2010.
- Library Help Desk – One of our Tech Crew has organised the equipping of a help desk in our centrally located and well utilised Library. They manage it at lunchtimes and also assist with the management of Library computers. As further web-based tools are introduced into the school, the Tech Crew will be called on to assist further. This help desk gives visibility and easier access to students and staff for help if needed.
- Online Booking System – One of our very talented Tech Crew members has been tasked by me to write a program for teachers to book computer and other College facilities over the web. It is nearly complete and will be launched in just over a week.
- Online Help Desk – Three of the Tech Crew are developing a Moodle Course which will act as an online request and technical training site for teaching staff. This site will serve dual purposes. It will encourage teachers who have not used Moodle to experience its usefulness from a ‘student’ perspective. It will also be a central point for help requests. Teachers will be able to request “Rapid Help” from the Tech Crew via a google form – our aim is for all help requests to be answered within 24hrs. Tech Crew will respond to the requests which they feel equipped to deal with. The Google form also feeds into a spreadsheet which enables us to later analyse how the system is being used.
There will also be blocks which provide information and support for each of the different software/hardware/other issues that teachers encounter. We are starting with MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Laptop issues, Outlook, and Room Equipment. However, this will be expanded into web based tools such as Google Docs, Gmail, Google Calendar, Mahara etc as they are rolled out.
- MyPortfolio (Mahara ePortfolios) – Two of the Tech Crew are working alongside me to become familiar with this web tool. I am using it with two of my classes (Year 9 History and Y12 Web Design) in very different ways. I am attempting to model to other staff the possibilities. About midyear the tool will be promoted and we will have the Tech Crew expertise to support it.
- Google Apps Education Edition – In about a months time the College will be rolling this out school wide. It will be a big change for staff and students alike. In preparation for this I and the Tech Crew have been using these Apps for communication and collaboration. We have a Tech Crew Google Calendar for planning. All communication is via Gmail and in particular we have a number of shared Google Docs. Two of the Tech Crew will also be administering the Apps site with me along with designing the site theme etc.
- Digiweb Video Project – One of our Tech Crew members has been tasked with exploring how we can digitalize and share with the students/teachers all College owned video. This is a large project which he is undertaking but a very important one as, like many institutions, we need to find better ways to manage these valuable resources.
- Technical and Application support for staff and students
- Support for me by having a willing and capable team supporting the various projects
- Tech Crew students gaining valuable leadership experience and being extended in their own ICT skills