George Lucas Educational Foundation

When Students Teach

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One of the best ways for a student to learn is to become the teacher. A few weeks ago, my group of advanced computers and technology students from Grade 4 went on a trip to our local Senior Center. The purpose of this trip was for the students to provide personalized tech support to our seniors who need help in troubleshooting everyday computer issues.

Spending a few hours helped in bridging the gap between our youth and seniors. It also provided a real life environment for application of the computer skills learned in the school. What was amazing was to see the enthusiasm of these students in sharing their ideas and skills, and the patience with which they taught a generation that sees technology as a pyschological battlefield.

One of the highlights was connecting the seniors to social media on their devices. The students served as catalysts in sparking their interests, and held their hands as they walked them through the process of downloading apps, creating accounts and making social connections. Most seniors hesitate to embrace the digital world and are unmotivated to learn because they don't have anyone assisting them in the learning process. Just like young students, older adults learn best with show and tell and one on ones. Another highlight was students demonstrating the use of different devices for different purposes. Students delivered bite-sized doses of information which did not intimidate the nervous seniors.

After our exciting session at the Senior Center, I asked my students to share their thoughts on the experience. Here is what they said:

  • "There is so much in common between us and the seniors. Some of them were as clueless as we were when we started to learn about how things work."
  • "I was able to brush up on some forgotten concepts. It was like a refresher course."
  • "Seniors have amazing listening skills. I think I need to listen more in class."
  • "I had to think and analyze when someone asked me a question that I didn't know the answer to right away."

When students are put in a position to teach, they assume the mindset of a teacher. This helps them strategize, analyze and demonstrate their learned skills and concepts more efficiently.

This post was created by a member of Edutopia's community. If you have your own #eduawesome tips, strategies, and ideas for improving education, share them with us.

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Alex Shevrin's picture
Alex Shevrin
Community college teacher, former school leader, Edutopia community facilitator

Devina, this sounds so sweet! I love that this got them out into their community as well. Are they planning on maintaining the connection for future visits or other interactions?

Devina Khan's picture

Thank you, and yes we are planning on going back in smaller groups once a month during the Center's free lab time for seniors. We've been asked to come back as the seniors found it to be as great a benefit as it was for the students!

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