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Office of Digital Learning

Haverhill's iSchool

Key features of the iTeam:

  • Uses a help desk ticket management system to keep the team on task and to document services provided;
  • Puts students in leadership positions as they grow within the program;
  • Offers students opportunities to present on their work with the iTeam at relevant conferences and events.

With the increasing number of educational technology devices being used in schools, some IT departments are finding it difficult to keep pace with technological support needs. To meet the growing needs of students and faculty, several Massachusetts districts have implemented innovative programs where students take on the role of providing technology support. These programs have the dual purpose of bridging the gap in technology support, as well as offering students real-world experience.

The "iTeam" at Haverhill High School is one such exemplary student group that handles all the tech support for Haverhill High School. The team is made up of students from all grade levels and is directed by Brian Nagel. Members help repair computers, teach other students and teachers how to use software, distribute computer carts to classrooms, and work with Mr. Nagel to learn about various technology applications. The iTeam works out of the iSchool, a technology resource for the entire Haverhill school district. Conveniently located near the high school's cafeteria, iSchool maintains flexible hours for teachers and administrators requesting training or technical support.

Students with backgrounds in computer science and technology were provided the opportunity to apply for the iTeam. As Bryce Spencer, a senior at the high school recounts, "I joined the student tech support team here at Haverhill High because I wanted to learn more about technology and I wanted to be able to help people with their technology. I'm a member of the A/V [audio and video] club so I work with technology all the time there as well and I've used my knowledge learning all of the sound and light technology, [which] I've transferred that to here." John Sanders, the captain of the school's robotics team, enthused "I love being able to find a frustrated teacher who can't figure out what's going on, to be able to help them walk through the process and get it fixed and then show them how to avoid the problem again and see the smile on their face after we're done".

In order to become part of the team, students must pass an interview, excel in communicating clearly too various stakeholders and demonstrate a strong working knowledge of Macs and PCs. According to Mr. Nagel, "Students are interviewed for acceptance to gauge personality, excitement, communication, and see what past experiences would help in our environment. Ultimately, we look to have students that can actively engage in conversation and have natural communication skills, and not necessarily those who have technical backgrounds or aptitude." Through their work and training, students further develop a solid understanding of the hardware and software systems. With each term completion, students can receive honors credit along with the opportunity for paid summer work.

Some of the technical skills students gain includes digital content creation and device troubleshooting. Others skills, such as engaging peers and teachers in academic collaborative learning experiences and developing workshops, provide for the transfer of these talents within and beyond the technology field. "Not only have I learned how to handle Apple devices and help troubleshoot, but I've also learned how to talk to people better and how to communicate how to troubleshoot and fix things better through working with the tech support team," said John Sanders.

The benefits of such programs are far reaching. John Sanders is pursuing computer science in college and Bryce Spencer has made many new connections. "Being on the student tech support team," said Bryce, "I've met students and teachers otherwise I never would have otherwise because I've helped them, I've learned with them, I've taught them and I just-I've met some really cool people."

Brian Nagel initially used teacher recommendations and word-of-mouth to build the team but hopes to advertise the opportunity more broadly. He believes that the iTeam has made lasting impacts on the use of technology in the school. Students have impacted the teachers' ability to use technology and have given valuable perspectives on the tech services, needs, and procedures of the school.

A final piece of advice Brian Nagel would like to give schools interested in starting a similar program is to be open to change. "It's something that should constantly be developing - you can have a goal and a plan, and you want to be able to prioritize student learning and development, but you need to be flexible with its direction as you go. Technology changes constantly and, while policies and procedures may not, the actual tools and workflows to get tasks done can change on a minute-by-minute basis - and that's okay!"

Other artifacts the iTeam has made available:

View HTML Page
Course Description
View HTML Page
Questionnaire with Brian Nagel

Senior John Sanders works with Teacher Brian Nagel to calibrate a Polyvision board.
Senior John Sanders works with Teacher Brian Nagel to calibrate a Polyvision board.

Student Bryce Spencer works on a video for the iSchool.
Student Bryce Spencer works on a video for the iSchool.

To contact the iTeam:
Brian Nagel
Technology Facilitator
Haverhill High School
bnagel@haverhill-ps.org



Last Updated: November 13, 2015
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