The Potential of Student Managed Technology

The Potential of Student Managed Technology

February 9, 2013|Posted in: Collaboration, Google Chromebooks, Google Docs, Handheld Technology, iPad, iPod, Teaching Strategies

There’s a lot to be said about giving students jobs of some of everyday classroom duties that can easily be forgotten or overlooked. I started out by having students take care of taking our garbage cans and recycling bin out to the hall at the end of the day. Then came desk inspectors to make sure all of the trash and messes that live under our desks are taken care of before we leave for the day. Next came the classroom bank manager. I’ll get more into my classroom currency system, but to sum it up, the banker manages all of the students accounts via individual QR Code which link to their Google Drive Spreadsheet which acted like a bank balance sheet.

With the amount of technology I have in my classroom, and seeing that number grow quite a bit this year, I decided it was time to find a few very trustworthy leaders within my classroom ranks. Luckily, two students took on the roles of Technology Managers, and have turned it into quite the operation. So much so, that I realized that without these managers in place, I don’t believe I could utilize my Chromebooks and iPads to their fullest potential.

To begin with, I only setup a few parameters for them to work with. 1. Make sure that we rotate the iPads and Chromebooks in a organized way so no one feels like they don’t get time to explore and learn with them. 2. Take absolute care of every item and understand how much time and effort/money it took to purchase these for the class.

That’s all I asked them to do. What they have evolved the job into now is awe-inspiring.

Tracking Sheets
The technology managers now have a tracking sheet with each students name and a check out method that allows them to see who has had what technology and at a glance they know who they should offer the iPads or Chromebooks to first.

App of the Week Presentations
On Wednesday, the managers pick an app that they would like to demonstrate for the class. This build excitement, and helps students understand that there is so much learning that can take place on these tablets and laptops.

Chromebook Login Assistance
Since our district has a very long logging into Google Chromebooks with individual student accounts can be cumbersome. While I am working with my small reading group in the afternoon, I have seen countless times where my technology managers are helping students login with the long domain name that they are unaccustomed to using. Imagine the time it would take to help each student individually on my own. It would become so much more trouble than value.

Clean up crew
Let’s face it, touchscreens and elementary students leave a smeared mess behind each and every day. So my students know that I expect them to clean of screens at the end of the day, and make them look as good as new for the next users. This helps keep a sense of pride for the handheld devices.

Care Tutors
My technology managers also deliver the laptops or iPads to students at their desks or where they will be working. I feel that the less they are being transported by different students the better. If they are carried by a student to their desk, the technology managers show them how to “hug it like you love it” to keep the technology safe and secure while moving back to their work area.

It takes a leap of faith to trust students with such meaningful and important jobs in my class. At first I watched over it all like a hawk, but I have slowly backed off the constant checking in, and now I just chat with them at the end of the day to see how it all went. They give me reports on questions or concerns that come up throughout the week, and we discuss ways we can improve. This week, they decided that they need to hire a couple assistants to hand out and track the technology. After asking for and receiving resumes and letters of interest from fellow students, the managers interviewed (complete with technology scenarios), checked other student references, and in the end had a couple afternoons of try outs. They added the two new assistants and had to let the other applicants know that they were not picked this time.

Needless to say, I’m a bit worried about what will happen next year when I have to restart a new technology team. I have this Tech-team creating a “How to Manage Classroom Technology” ebook (using the Ebook Creator app). It’s a good start, but it takes a certain type of student to own this job.

These are amazing kids, and I couldn’t run my classroom to its fullest potential without them.