Digital Leaders – Why you need them in your school? (Plus a few tips on how to get started)
January 26, 2013 33 Comments
Students are curious.
Without this curiosity, I don’t believe a Digital Leader programme would be so successful. Show them something they are interested in and they want to know more. If they come up against a barrier, they want to overcome it. If they can find out something no-one else knows, they want to share it. Successful Digital Leaders are the epitome of the curious student with more to offer schools than perhaps any other student body at this time. The classroom environment is changing and students and teachers need their help.
DIGITAL LEADER RESPONSIBILITY
- A guide when using technology to support learning
- Exponent of new and existing applications
- Trainer and supporter of school members including parental, teacher and student bodies
The example below is taken from our 1:1 iPad initiative which serves to illustrate how crucial Digital Leaders will be to the success of the rollout. It must be emphasised that the roles and responsibilities are transferable to any technology in schools. I would suggest that the process is a little easier as all students have the same device.
DIGITAL LEADER MODEL
- An iGenius in each class (responsible for communication with students and teachers alike)
- Four further Digital Leaders in each class
- Genius Bar run every lunchtime (in a very public space)
- Training every Friday lunchtime given to Digital Leaders to support their development
- Edmodo group for communication, sharing good practice and new ideas
- Students submit a 30 second presentation to a panel of interviewers. The presentation can involve any application although the most common is an iMovie with different apps used to create the content
- The panel then ask questions centred around communication and commitment. An ability to understand that skill levels are varied is key to the selection process, alongside communication skills
- Digital Leaders chosen to meet the model requirements (with respect given to outstanding candidates above and beyond the four Digital Leaders per class)
- First to receive information about new apps/ideas
- Friday lunchtime training for selected Digital Leaders based on focus for the week ahead. This allows for weekend interaction and feedback amongst the group. Training includes appropriate digital communication and presentation suggestions
- Access to key information from teaching body and IT support
- Consistent rewards for attendance and application – in line with school achievement policy
- The primary aim of our Digital Leader programme is to support learning in the classroom
- The presence of four ‘experts’ in the classroom means a teacher should never have to deal with technological issues – Wifi, App use, Workflow etc. The reality is that the Digital Leaders provide a safety net without having to call a member of the IT support team. Consequently, teachers are more likely to try new applications knowing the Digital Leaders are trained to support them
- A teacher needs to manage when the Digital Leaders can offer support and ensure it doesn’t hinder their own learning
- Feedback and praise works very well in the iPad environment as it can be shared instantly. The Edmodo groups serve as an excellent way of highlighting contributions
- The Genius Bar, run by an iGenius and four Digital Leaders, must serve to solve issues for any school member. It helps to have a focus that the Digital Leaders can demonstrate to encourage interaction. Set up is easy as everything is wireless!
- The presence of four or five Digital Leaders in each class means that absence or forgetfulness is barely noticed. If in doubt, more is definitely more
EXAMPLES OF SUCCESS
- Dropbox sign up for new students was as simple as asking the Digital Leaders to ensure all members of their class had an account (GoogleDrive will be the same)
- A question from a teacher posted on the Edmodo ‘wall’ led to fifteen responses with answers to the query. As a result an app was ‘gifted’ to all students that hadn’t been previously used
- A Digital Leader came up with a method of downloading any file from the internet into Goodreader that meant we had a one step process to transfer files (including from existing VLE)
- If the Digital Leaders have an issue they communicate with each other, via Edmodo, discover the answer and thank anyone that helped for their time. As a consequence their ‘chatroom’ will be used a as a model of good practice
The reality is, I can’t see how a 1:1 programme could be properly supported without Digital Leaders in the classroom. There isn’t the funding or manpower to support all teachers and students and, if I’m honest, I think fellow students are better equipped in many situations. There is a time commitment to the process and the initial setup is crucial to success. However, I can assure you it is worth it and the payback for all the questions you don’t have to answer cannot be underestimated.
ONE LAST TIP
Train your Digital Leaders to be masters of workflow. Your fellow teachers will thank you.