One of the most transformative components of a successful 1-to-1 programme is free, available in every classroom and keen to learn. That component is the student body, or more importantly, those willing to act as Digital Leaders. Such is the success of Digital Leader programmes throughout the UK that there is a nationwide framework of Digital Leaders sharing tips and resources. Contact can be made through the Digital Leader network that can be found at www.digitalleadernetwork.co.uk Highly recommended as a starting point for research and collaboration.
Whilst the concept of handing over responsibility might be difficult for some staff, it is crucial that they embrace the help students can offer when using technology in the classroom. Indeed, many staff will be fearful of technology full-stop, so having a trained, trusted and knowledgeable set of helpers in the classroom can relieve teachers of this psychological load. They don’t need to understand how it all works, they just need to understand why it is useful for learning.
A teacher should be supporting the learning process and not have to deal with any user issues with technology. Chromebooks and iPads are very robust as tools for learning. However, the same cannot always be said of the user. Failure to update apps or remember simple workflows are a headache for any 1-to-1 programme coordinator. The onus should not be on the teacher in the classroom to troubleshoot these issues. Likewise the IT team don’t need to babysit the students as they use the device. Step forward Digital Leaders and the wealth of knowledge and support they can bring to a 1-to-1 programme.
The aim is to provide a teacher with the ability to say to a student ‘if you’re having an issue with that application, speak to our wonderful Digital Leaders when I’ve finished explaining what we’re going to do’. Whilst this may sound idealistic, programmes like this have been used for decades in schools. Whether it is representatives for school council, milk monitors or library duty, students are very good at taking on roles of responsibility. The key is to manage the start-up and training process in such a way that the Digital Leaders are almost self- sufficient with a little support from staff.
Thankfully students are curious. Without this curiosity, a Digital Leader programme wouldn’t be so successful. Show them something they are interested in and they want to know more. If they come up against a barrier, they want to overcome it. If they can find out something no-one else knows, they want to share it. Successful Digital Leaders are the epitome of the curious student with more to offer schools than perhaps any other student body at this time. The classroom environment is changing and students and teachers need their help.