By Kristin Kuntz, Rock Creek Elementary, Beaverton, Oregon
What is a Tech Team?
A Tech Team is a group of students who meet on a regular basis to provide technology support for teachers and students. Members are trained to troubleshoot, maintain equipment, and help teachers use technology more effectively. The team can be led by a teacher, media specialist, or technology coordinator. Members not only assist teachers but also support office staff, aides, custodial staff, and parent volunteers. In addition, members become peer resources for other students learning to use technology. Tech Team members can be referred to as Tech Assistants or Junior Techs.
Why Have a Tech Team
- Technology Integration and Support: The general function of a Tech Team is to smooth the speed bumps of technology and create a support network for teachers.
- Student Development: On a higher level, as members of a team, students learn how to cooperate in a group, take on additional responsibility, and gain confidence as they provide assistance to staff and students.
- Additional Resources: A Tech Team can provide relief for the school's technology facilitator or coordinator. Minor, everyday technology glitches can be solved by students, freeing up the technology facilitator to deal with larger issues.
- Technical Development: Members of a Tech Team learn how to help others by "showing" rather than "doing." In the long run, this helps teachers and students become more adept at solving their own technical problems.
Setting Up a Tech Team
- Decide How the Team Will Be Structured
- Will it be a formal team? If so, review the school's procedure for setting up a team/club.
- Determine if approval is needed from an administrator. If so, fill out necessary paperwork.
- Start small. Limit the team size to 30 or fewer. A successful group depends on the ability of the leader to organize and manage team members.
- If any work is going to be done on the World Wide Web, be sure to keep the following on file for each member: signed AUP form and a signed parent permission form for publishing student work. In addition, any other students whose work will be featured on the site need to have a signed parent permission form for publishing their work.
- Establish How Members Are Selected
- Do students need to apply or will they selected by their classroom teacher?
- What criteria or prerequisites do students need to be accepted?
- What grade levels can participate?
- Should there be an equal ratio of boys and girls?
- Assess Technology Skills Prior to Beginning
- Decide which members need basic instruction and provide that in the form of mini-lessons, books, or tutorials.
- Pair a more experienced student with a student that is just getting started. Peer instruction is invaluable!
- Assign Meeting Times
- A regular meeting time, minimum of one hour, is important. It can be before or after school, during lunch, or a combination.
- If meetings are to take place during school, be sure to pre-arrange it with classroom teachers and parents.
- Arrange for a parent volunteer or another teacher to assist with the supervision of the group.
- After school meetings are usually more productive with a snack. Ask parents to take turns providing food and/or drinks for the team.
- Determine the Team's Focus
- If it is the team's first year in existence, start small. Assign projects that can be accomplished quickly and easily to ensure success.
- Create assignment/project sheets and set deadlines.
- Create Clear Communication
- Elect a secretary to take notes for absent members.
- Post notes on a team bulletin board.
- Assign buddies to instruct each other if one misses a meeting.
- Establish an Evaluation System
- Decide what qualities should be evaluated: troubleshooting ability, communication skills, promptness, team cooperation skills, etc.
- Create an assessment form to distribute to staff and/or a peer evaluation form.
- Once a quarter or trimester, evaluate the performance of Tech Team members.
- Recognize the Team's Efforts
- In the school newspaper or on the school Web site, be sure to acknowledge the hard work these students are doing.
- Be sure to celebrate all successes whether small or large!
Planning for a Tech Team
- Inventory Hardware
- Create an inventory of all hardware in two forms, a list or spreadsheet and a building map.
- Include make and model, serial and other inventory numbers, room numbers, "owner," type of peripherals, and other special information.
- Identify Computers
- Establish a numbering system and create labels for all computers.
- Identifying equipment makes it easier to direct students and to track repairs in a service log.
- Divide and Conquer
- Divide the building map into reasonable sections.
- Break up the Tech Team into smaller groups and assign each group a different section of the building.
- Groups should have a leader to distribute assignments and maintain the service log.
- Create a Troubleshooting Form
- Provide a basic troubleshooting form for teachers and other staff to fill out. This helps identify the problem and saves time.
- The Tech Team advisor should assign the help requests to appropriate members.
- If the member cannot solve the problem, the form is returned to the Tech Team advisor who attempts to solve it.
- If the Tech Team advisor is unable to resolve the problem, the next step is to contact district technology support.
- Maintain a Service Log
- Create a spreadsheet to track all service requests.
- Include information such as date requested, description of problem, Tech Team member assigned, date completed, and owner satisfaction.
- An additional category could include information about how the problem was solved. This will save time in the future when similar problems arise.
- Keep all troubleshooting forms in a binder as a backup to the service log.
- Roles and Responsibilities
- Brainstorm responsibilities together and decide who is going to accept specific roles.
- Rotate roles to help students gain experience in multiple responsibilities.
- Discuss the qualities of a group leader and give everyone a chance to be a leader when ready.
Training Tech Team Members
Members of the Tech Team need to be trained in basic hardware troubleshooting and maintenance of the following:
They also need to understand operating system software and school/district specific programs:
- Cleaningkeyboards, screens, mouse tracking balls
- Computer to TV Monitor presenters
- Connectionschecking power cords and network cords
- Digital Cameras
- Mouseconnection and tracking ball
- Printerspaper jams and ink/toner cartridges
Kristin Kuntz is a technology instructor for Rock Creek Elementary in Beaverton, Oregon.
- Operating System and/or Working With Windows*
- Network Connection
- Selecting a Printer
Basic Word Processing Skills
- Integrating Graphics
- Specific Software Applications
- Filesharing or Log-on Procedures
- Internet Navigation/Searching