4 Ways to Get a K–12 Student Help Desk Going

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4 Ways to Get a K–12 Student Help Desk Going
Wed, 03/06/2019 – 21:43

As one-to-one programs see significant growth in K–12 schools across the country, IT teams will need extra support to manage and maintain the surge of student devices.

A majority of administrators from elementary schools (64 percent), middle schools (83 percent) and high schools (85 percent) report they have already implemented one-to-one devices or see it as a primary goal, according to a 2018 K–12 leadership survey from the Consortium for School Networking

Some enterprising school administrators are enlisting students to run school help desks, providing staff with the assistance they need while also giving students the chance to learn technical skills through a hands-on approach.

MORE FROM EDTECH: See how K–12 schools are using professional services to support their one-to-one device programs.

4 Best Practices for a Successful Help-Desk Program

When Burlington High School in Massachusetts launched its rollout of 1 thousand personal tablets, Jane Scheffer, the school’s instructional technologist, decided to recruit students to run and manage an IT help desk.

The program was one of the first of its kind in the country and required Scheffer to adapt the program as it went. “Launching it didn’t come without challenges,” Scheffer wrote in an ISTE blog post. “Sustaining its success for both students and staff requires continued attention and adjustments as the technology needs of our school community change over time.”

From this experiment, Scheffer identified four key steps other K–12 schools can use to develop a similar program in their districts.

  1. Pinpoint learning outcomes and design your curriculum: When starting a student help desk program, facilitators should map out the educational benefits they want their students to take away, writes Scheffer. At BHS, Scheffer used the Massachusetts Technology Literacy Standards and Tony Wagner’s Seven Survival Skills as a guide to establish a program that could benefit students as well as the school. “The BHS Help Desk curriculum strives to give students real-world learning opportunities,” Scheffer writes. “Just like an actual working environment, we expect students to be self-driven, independent and capable of managing multiple projects.”

  2. Develop learning activities and assessments: While hands-on tasks will be a major part of the learning process for student help desk volunteers, facilitators will need to design tests to reinforce on-the-job skills to make sure students retain the information they learn. “Members of a student tech team should graduate from their respective programs with both technical and soft skills that are highly sought after by employers, and their online resumes should incorporate their tech team accomplishments along with their other work experiences,” writes Scheffer. 

  3. Identify, recruit and promote your team: Technology savvy students are not the only ones who can, and should, participate in these programs. Since help desks are volunteer-based, marketing is a crucial way to get students interested in joining. Bringing in talented writers, graphic designers or videographers can be a great way to boost interest in the help desk program, while also giving students who are not interested in fixing devices a chance to participate. 

  4. Establish your mission, purpose and goals: Giving students ownership in the help desk can increase student engagement, as well as help schools improve the program over time. Scheffer suggests facilitators work with their students to create a program mission statement, getting input from students about what they want to get out of running a help desk. It is also important to balance student autonomy and classroom structure to let students experiment with new ways to streamline help desk services while still ensuring they walk away with core life skills.

This article is part of the “Connect IT: Bridging the Gap Between Education and Technology” series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using the #ConnectIT hashtag.


[title]Connect IT: Bridging the Gap Between Education and Technology

Jennifer Brown

Jennifer Brown is a K12 Education Strategist at CDW•G and former elementary school teacher, whose passion is elevating the learning experience through educational technology.

4 Ways to Get a K–12 Student Help Desk Going
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