By Christopher Fahnoe, CIO Advisor
(Last time, Christopher wrote about technology apprenticeships)
Increasing student involvement in schools through an apprentice model does not necessarily require major shifts in scheduling, pedagogy, or planning. In some cases, it will call for an adjustment of roles between teacher and student and in other cases it may just require sharing responsibilities with a focus on accomplishing the required tasks. In either case, the experiences for the student can be tremendously valuable: They feel empowered, are required to produce (not just conceive), meet deadlines, cooperate with others, and a develop collaboration skills with students and adults. The key is for the apprentice to learn with the teacher and gradually develop the confidence and skills to become more independent in real-world experiences. This comes about quite differently throughout the grade levels as expected, but students of all ages can be involved in a meaningful way.
In our K-8 district, there are several examples of students in the apprenticeship role using technology. Some examples are formal programs of development while others represent shared responsibility with the classroom. While observing in the district and discussing possibilities with staff, it is encouraging to see students have opportunities to "learn on the job." The examples are not always mind-blowing, but they are meaningful and relevant. A selection of examples in our district include students:
Materials For Class
- Updating homework webpage
- Acting as classroom photographer, document different activities and upload pictures to the class website
- Maintaining and updating the class blog
- Developing wiki templates and pages for upcoming lessons
- Providing lesson topics and ideas through a design-thinking process
- Collaboratively generating study reviews or guides
- Working with the building support technician to conduct repairs
- Turning off the projector each day and getting devices charged and ready
- Participating in clubs or experiences such as ‘Techsperts” to provide basic troubleshooting skills that can be used back in the classroom
- Learning about the connections and cords that are required to keep equipment working and functional
- Becoming a Tech Captain to help support areas such as the login process, wireless connectivity, computer maintenance and browsing the Web
Leading Group Activities/Projects
- Coordinating live morning announcements including setting up green screens, running the cameras and podcast equipment
- Independently conducting a student news crew to deliver a brief summary of the highlights of the week including recording and uploading
- Explore new tools and resources in groups such as "TechStars" and then providing mini-training sessions for staff
- Becoming a class trainer and support specific learning projects through a train-the trainer model by the teacher
In these cases, technology is not necessarily the outcome or the focus but serves as a connector that provides the student the chance to engage in tasks and roles because they are comfortable and interested. The apprentices hopefully become skilled and confident to eventually manage their own affairs and that is one noble goal of education. I want to thank the teachers in District 25 for providing the many examples used in this article.
Chris Fahnoe is the director of technology and assessment at Arlington Heights School District 25 in Illinois.