A Student-Run Help Desk for K-12

1:1 and BYOD initiatives usually conger dreaded images of overflowing support queues for the IT department. With such programs becoming common place in K-12 education, the increase of users and devices bring with it various challenges. Some K-12 support teams are enlisting student help to cover the workload.  As a result, the effort provides education and experience for the next generation of tech experts.

Student-aided help desk programs are on the rise and many are discovering the logistical challenges as well as education potential. Education is the obvious benefit. Some have developed courses and curriculum for students to gain not only technical knowledge but practical experience. They learn by supporting no only students but teachers and administrators within their own school.

Burlington Public Schools

The US Department of Education highlighted Burlington Public Schools, located in Massachusetts, for launching one of the nation’s first student-run help desk program saying, “When Burlington High School was preparing to rollout over 1,000 tablets back in 2011, the administration, IT department, and educational technology team relied heavily on students.” Because of the program, the 3-person IT department was alleviated while students and teachers collaborated using learning technology.

Jennifer Scheffer, Burlington High School (BHS) help desk educator, shared her efforts expanding the curriculum and operating the program:

“Many student help desk programs begin as pilot or volunteer programs before they evolve into a course. As you start to build your team, I’d look for students with varying skills sets. Start by identifying students with an interest in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math). You will have some students who want to troubleshoot hardware and wish to spend time with your IT staff.”

A Student Genius Bar

Andrew Marcinek originated the Burlington concept of a “student genius bar course that would help support [their] 1:1 iPad initiative.” He has since carried his design to other schools evolving from tier 1 support to include project-based learning of new technologies . Andrew quoted a tweet by education technology expert, Dean Shareski, who responded to BHS students presented their work at MassCUE 2013:

“Why don’t more schools tap into student’s tech skills with helpdesks and genius bars? Seems like a no brainer.”

The now world-renowned BHS student help desk operates as a “hands on study of technology integration in an educational context” providing technical support and software development experience.  As a result, the district’s middle school has begun it’s own student-run help desk. Expectations also exist for the same to happen at one of the district’s elementary schools!

Due to their continuing leadership today, BHS Help Desk instructor, LeRoy Wong, is willing to connect with individuals and schools looking to start their own student-run tech team. Learn more on the Burlington High School Help Desk website.

Is your help desk aided by students?  Share your experience in the comments below!

Starting a student-run help desk program? Learn more about our affordable apprentice technician licenses of everything HelpDesk® by contacting us at 801-335-0700 or sending a message.

Image credit: WBZ-TV

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