A Conference for Kids: Sharpening Technical Skills Ultimately Benefits a School and a CommunityAugust 14, 2006 | Jim Moulton
Recently some 325 middle school kids from across the state of Maine (as well as a few visitors from neighboring New Hampshire) converged on the Gorham campus of the University of Southern Maine. They were there, along with teachers and parent chaperones, to participate in the third-annual MLTI Student Tech Team Conference -- the result of a partnership with that university's School of Applied Science, Engineering and Technology (ASET) and the Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI).
The MLTI schools got great training for their Student Tech Teams, and USM and ASET got a chance to introduce tech-minded middle school kids to their campus. The kids got a chance to push their technical knowledge in addition to becoming better acquainted with a college campus in general and an exciting engineering program in detail. A classic win-win-win situation!
These Student Tech Teams can play a critical role in 1:1 schools, not only in New England, but anywhere. You see, when 1:1 comes to school, there is never "enough" technical support -- there simply can't be! By purposefully developing a team of students who have the technical skills to resolve relatively simple issues that might otherwise bring classroom use of laptops to a halt, a school supports teachers, students, and teaching and learning. And probably most important, by supporting tech team members in developing people skills that allow them to leave knowledge behind as they resolve technical issues, the tech team contributes to the building of school capacity to support change across the entire community.
These Student Tech Team Members and their teacher sponsors are getting to "live" project-based learning on a daily basis across all curriculum areas. They are on the front lines of supporting their schools by growing their own skills and then contributing what they know. How is your school growing student technical and people skills and then leveraging those skills by giving them a chance to give back to their school community? Let me know.