Does that new help desk aide look, well, young? As in, really young — as in, your student?
Don’t be surprised. Several school districts have launched IT support programs that give students an opportunity to get hands-on with tech and also extend the help that they can provide to the classroom, staff and students.
IT professionals are stretched thin in K–12 school districts. And the strategy of staffing help desks with student workers has become an increasingly successful approach to combat an influx of help requests that come with the proliferation of educational technology.
For these programs, schools tap computer-savvy students as a resource, preserving the IT staff’s time for other responsibilities.
Student IT Teams Learn Workplace Skills
In exchange, student tech helpers gain real-world skills, such as experience juggling multiple projects and providing customer service, not to mention repairing and troubleshooting hardware and software. Students set up passwords, install software, troubleshoot Wi-Fi or login issues, support websites and master the ins and outs of educational tools.
All of that work serves to prepare them for a future beyond school while also supporting the broader educational community.
“We wanted to create a technology community that fosters professional growth and collaboration, and adds to our ability to support teaching and learning,” says Justin Brown, senior network and systems engineer at Bethlehem Central School District in New York.
Brown and his colleague, Navaar Johnson, also a network and systems engineer, recruited students to work on the help desk at Bethlehem High School to offset rising costs and a shrinking budget.
Sharing Tech Experience Outside of School
Schools have adopted best practices for student-run help desks, including offering credits or grades for participation. Plus, some schools even have students share their knowledge with the public.
In this issue, we explore this positive trend. To learn more about how students are helping their schools’ tech support teams and to get tips about how you might try it in your district, look to our feature “Schools Tap Students to Provide Enough IT Help Desk Support."