One of the most powerful experiences of my career as an educator has been the creation of a group of student tech leaders, called iExplorers. The passion and excitement of these students inspires me each day, and is making a difference in our school and community. Here are a few reasons I think you should have student tech leaders on your campus.
1. Idea Sharing
Imagine a group of excited students together, with their attention focused on technology projects for their classroom. It’s kind of like a rodeo. Ideas are flying everywhere, and they get kind of hard to wrangle! Harnessing the power of student ideas is incredible. Introduce a new app or idea, give them a focus point, and poof, there’s a whole slew of ideas that are infinitely better than what you would have done alone. Imagine how much more effective classroom technology integration can be when you embrace what your students dream up.
Here’s an example of ideas that students and teachers brainstormed together for the app Flipagram, recorded as a Popplet. Be sure to maximize the idea potential and invite your student tech leaders to teacher tech trainings!
2. Connect to Student Thinking
When you start embracing student ideas, their questions come right along with it. Almost every time I work with the iExplorers, a student shares something or asks me something that I hadn’t even considered before. It usually turns out to be something I should have considered, or that might be a big deal to a student. We’ve dug into Google Apps for Education together, and discovered solutions that make it work for our 2:1 student to iPad program. The thoughts student tech leaders will bring, and challenge you with, will be sure to inspire.
3. Inspire Students and Staff
The iExplorers ran the Hour Of Code on our campus this past December. It was a huge success! We spent some time exploring first, then came up with some apps and activities for the iExplores to use in their classroom. The reports that I got from iExplorers and teachers were incredible. Teachers loved that there was student initiative and leadership. iExplorers reeled from the feedback their peers gave them. Their friends were engaged, asking questions, and wanting to share ideas of their own. The Hour of Code was just one example, the iExplores have so many other ideas to share with students and staff. I love that creation is contagious.
4. Ignite A Culture Creation
When students take chances and share their thoughts and ideas with others, both teachers and students, it fosters a different type of learning environment. One that so many in education are working towards in their schools. Our student tech leaders are beginning to change the culture of our campus, and inspiring more creation and collaboration. The excitement of my iExplore group is contagious. It absolutely makes my heart sing!
I hope you are thoroughly inspired to start a group in your school! If you’re interested, read more about the expectations for our group and some of our experiences here.
Feature image adapted from image courtesy of Flickr, Brad Flickinger.