Student Empowered Learning with Technology


Photo by Norton Gusky CC BY 4.0

[For many years I’ve believed in empowering students, especially to tap into their technology expertise. When I was the Coordinator of Educational Technology for the Fox Chapel Area School District, we enlisted students to provide not only tech support, but also professional development for teachers. I work with the South Fayette School District where we’ve had students teach workshops on Python based on a curriculum that the students have developed. In this Edtech article you’ll find other examples where students take the lead working with other students or adults.]

Students at a California middle school have become the teachers when it comes to technology.


When Creekside Middle School in Patterson, Calif. rolled out over 1,000 Google Chromebooks in the fall of 2015, teachers received many professional development sessions to learn how to better implement technology in the classroom.

After seeing the effects of the training, students began asking if they too could attend PD to sharpen their skills. Their former principal, Kerry McWilliams, said yes, but only if the students themselves conducted it for their peers.

Such was the genesis of Tech Boost, a biannual conference where student experts teach other students how to code, create videos, design web pages and apps. It began last spring with students presenting 90-minute lessons to their peers as teachers listened in, The Modesto Bee reports.

“It’s about tapping into the student talent that is already there,” says Creekside Principal Cathy Aumoeualogo. “The teachers and administrators just had to plan how to fit it into the semester.”

For Creekside educators Jeff Greenhalgh and Nolan Cluff — both of whom assist Tech Boost as teacher leaders — having the students teach their peers about how to use new technology was extremely beneficial: They could spend more time focusing on subject matter and not use valuable class time simply teaching how to use a tool.

But, more than anything, Tech Boost has been a great way for the students to become empowered about learning and their futures.

“When you believe in kids and they know it, it’s amazing what you can do,” McWilliams told the Bee. “The Tech Boost was also a boost of confidence for our kids, to go through the practice and prep and be able to do a presentation.”

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