At least 8 million students are now taught in ‘one to one’ or ‘121’ groups. These are groups that have access to a computer whenever they need to /choose to use it. Having been fortunate enough to visit a large number of such 121 groups in a number of different countries, there is a clear pattern of success. Basically, those that attempt to set up the teacher as the ICT expert make extremely slow progress with many reporting that the 121 acts as a hindrance, whilst those that recognise and utilise the expertise of students make very considerable progress.
In response to this problem, I set up my first tech team called the ‘Access Managers’ in the year 2000. These were groups of specially trained students who could work alongside teachers in 121 environments as co-developers and co-experts. I have since set up numerous such schemes in primary, secondary and all-through schools and seen considerable success in each case.
In 2008 I tried to establish such teams across 10 schools in 10 different countries in parallel via monthly webinars. We achieved success in 2/10 cases. Since then I have tried to improve the structure and have seen success rates slowly creep up.
I have just started planning the next stage of the process so decided to share the notes I’m making to anyone who is interested.
Tech teams 2014-15
Starting in September 4 groups of 28 children aged 11/12 will start secondary school at saltash.net community school and will be given a laptop to use in all their lessons until February at which point the laptops will be taken from them and given to a different 4 groups of 28 children. This is the plan but it will may change during the year if circumstances change.
In each group there will be a tech team of 4 students who will support teachers with the technical elements, provide suggestions and help report problems as well as successes.
This year I managed to observe the tech teams in action in each group and they did an excellent job of supporting the teachers who praised their efforts enormously. There were a number of improvements from last year
- The idea of recruiting tech teams through a set of challenges worked extremely well and much better than teacher appointment
- The idea of meeting the teams for 15 minutes each week was really positive but more could be made to this time
- The idea of tech team students emailing a central point for advice when they saw students using the ICT inappropriately worked amazingly well and only required actual follow up on two occasions.
There were a number of areas where slow or no progress was made and which we need to focus on in September.
- The idea of co-constructing the scheme with students meant that it took much longer to establish the teams and maintain them. It would be better to have defined stages to the process at the start and then introduce co-development for those that showed ability in this area. It required the highest order of thinking and tended to exclude some excellent leaders.
- Collecting good ideas that have helped students learn in lessons from staff and students is still not happening. This needs some radical new approaches
- The process should be a perfect way to assess the SECRET skills of students but this is only happening through me at present and needs to become embedded.
The plan – Phase 1
- Ensure laptops are in place for the scheme and have easy access to Office 365 synchronised in the same way as staff.
- Design ‘Leadership Challenge 1’ with the current tech team students.
- Find the group of current tech team who would be best placed to launch the scheme with the new Yr7 students. The ‘Launch squad’
- Visit all 4 groups in the first two days and introduce the ‘Launch squad’ who introduce ‘Leadership Challenge 1’
- The ‘Launch squad’ judge ‘Leadership Challenge 1’ and invite 8 potential tech team from each group to a training event.
- ‘Leadership Challenge 2’ will follow from the training event and will be judged on the first 4 to achieve it. (the other 4 will be the reserve team for that group)