Recently Warsaw Middle School’s Techno Wizards presented to elementary and middle school students and their parents on various aspects of digital citizenship. Eight students from Warsaw’s (WMS) new student technology team shared research, insights, advice, and tips on several critical topics—digital natives and immigrants, private and personal information online, password security, digital footprints, cyberbullying, and intellectual property. The students were professional, cool, and knowledgeable while presenting information and answering questions posed to them. But this was not their first public presentation.
The Techno Wizards have been busy since last September under the able direction of advisor and mentor, Ms. Lori Stevens, Warsaw’s technology integrator. Key functions of the Warsaw student technology team are to provide technology and learning assistance to teachers and fellow students, to assist with needed technical repairs and set-up, and perhaps most importantly of all, to serve as positive digital citizenship role models for both their school and their community. Digital citizenship refers to understanding and knowing how to navigate the digital world responsibly, safely, and ethically, obviously a set of skills that are becoming more important everyday.
Fourteen students applied for and eventually joined the Techno Wizards because they enjoy learning about and using technology; they also take seriously “giving back” to their school. It shouldn’t be a surprise that they are emerging student leaders at WMS. The Techno Wizards don’t get paid and they don’t receive academic credit for their work. Those types of external awards aren’t what motivate them! They do meet with Ms. Stevens every Tuesday morning at 7:20 a.m. to prepare for their next presentation, learn about applications of software to learning, or how to assist their own teachers in using an app or software more effectively.
What else do the Techno Wizards do? Early in the school year they learned about Google Sites, a tool that every student at WMS will use to build his/her own digital portfolio. (A digital portfolio is a “purposeful collection” of a student’s best work in an electronic format, required by more colleges and workplaces.) Techno Wizards learned how to operate Google Sites first so that they could assist their teachers and eventually fellow students. I attended one of the professional development sessions and loved seeing the interesting role reversal as teachers learned from students!
Each week several students assist Ms. Stevens as she instructs fourth grade students at the elementary school across the street. Every Techno Wizard also offers daily assistance to teachers and students in their classes. This ranges from trouble-shooting computer problems, to showing how to save, find, or send information to others, how to print, or how to use new tools as they are introduced. In short, the 14 Techno Wizards become 14 additional teachers for WMS.
But make no mistake…this is not simply a modern-day “AV Club” focused on computers, tablets, and projectors. Today’s student technology teams, like the Techno Wizards at Warsaw Middle School, use student expertise, leadership, enthusiasm, and an uncanny ability to work with a variety of people to strengthen the learning missions of their schools.
How do students assist with technology and learning in your school?