One regularly overlooked aspect of implementing a school laptop initiative is student involvement. The education consultants at Generation YES recently outlined some ways to do just that. For the full report, go to http://www.genyes.org/freeresources/
Committee work: Students contribute their unique points of view and technology expertise. Prepare students for committee work by practicing brainstorming and using consensus language.
Internet safety and AUPs: Include students in the process of reviewing school acceptable use policies (AUPs) so the participating students will be better able to articulate the new rules to their peers.
Security: Offer trained students a gradually-increasing access level between a normal student and a teacher. Avoid putting even trained students in an awkward position by allowing unnecessary access.
Student support for teachers: Students can work one-on-one with teachers to help integrate technology into planned lessons, can help provide floating classroom support, or even present the lesson themselves.
Integrate students with professional tech support: Some IT staff will not want to deal with students. In these cases, student tech support should focus on support for teachers using classroom technology. With tools such as the GenYES online help desk, student work can be kept separate from IT staff, but still be tracked and reported.
Create student tech support teams:
• Students must be trained in tech support, customer service and follow up.
• To encourage strong relationships, put one teacher or staff person in charge of the program.
• Have veteran students recruit and mentor incoming students.
• If students are prohibited from accessing computers, there are still many problems to fix, like answering selected help desk requests or providing support for simple problems.
• Professional IT staff should be involved in decisions about the boundaries of what students can do and have access to.
• Administration and IT staff must agree on expectations for student behavior, escalation procedures, and the role of adult mentors.
• Student tech support should be tracked and monitored. GenYES provides an online tool specifically for this purpose.
• Students can earn certifications from your laptop manufacturer. Some schools have created a certified help desk that generates rebates from the manufacturer for doing their own repairs.
• In elementary and middle school, focus on teacher classroom support rather than formal tech support.