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Student-Run Tech Committee at Yarmouth High School
Author: Alice Barr, Yarmouth High School | June 17th, 2014

At Yarmouth High School in Yarmouth, Maine, students are involved in many aspects of the school-wide 1:1 program. In particular, the student-run tech committee provides an opportunity for students to participate in, and guide the direction of, Yarmouth's learning culture. In this article, Instructional Technology Integrator Alice Barr shares how the committee is organized, its role within the school, and its benefits and challenges.

Yarmouth High School has been 1:1 since September, 2004, and all students in grades 7-12, as well as staff, are equipped with laptops which they can take home with them in the evenings.

*How are students selected for the tech committee?

They are elected to student senate and then volunteer to be on the technology committee. This year there were 8 students, but it varies year to year. The students volunteer for the position, so credit is not awarded for participation.

*Are students involved in establishing the rules to follow (that they share in the video presentations?)

We are due for an upgrade to the rules, and they will be part of that discussion next year. When they create the video, they do it themselves and I check it.

*How involved are students at the decision, or policy-making level?

We have students involved in many aspects of school culture. For instance, students are involved in the hiring process when we bring a candidate in, and we have 2 student reps on the school committee. When visitors arrive at the school, students act as the tour leaders. In addition, students have helped to create computer use guidelines, and they also assist in any professional development that we do.

* How are the students who work as "help desk assistants" chosen? Do they receive credit for their work?

It is part of our student tutoring program. They volunteer. They don’t receive credit.

*Do you have any practical advice to teachers and administrators looking to start a student-run tech committee in their schools?

a. Start small
b. Be flexible
c. Let students have a voice. They generally will come up with the same guidelines you would, but also they have great new ideas.
d. Do one project at a time.
e. Give them leeway but hold them accountable. Example: when students make the opening video for the rollouts, they create it and I sign off on it.

*What challenges have you met along the way, and how did you address them?

The only challenge I have had is time commitments. Students are so busy that it’s hard to get them to come. That is why having the tech team as part of student senate has been beneficial. In addition, things are often last minute.

*Beyond the tech committee, are there other programs designed to include students in 1:1 curriculum or decision-making in the school?

Students assist in any professional development that we do. We also have a student-run tutoring program, and students are involved in Youth Court.

*What feedback have you received from the students who participated in the committee?

a. Students have really enjoyed their leadership roles, and often comment how the combination of their technology use and student government skills have helped them in their post graduate choices.
b. They tend to be confident about making choices that stretch them and their thinking.

*What impact have you seen in the students who participate in the organization of your 1:1 program?

The culture around teaching and learning has really changed. Students and teachers are both learning and help each other. Teachers often ask students for technology help. Students are not afraid to volunteer. What I like is that everyone has the same device and case. There is no distinction around economic differences when it comes to using technology. Everyone is on equal. Further, students have organized and participated in some projects that we might not have been able to do otherwise. This year the technology committee organized a student un-conference for the high school. They also helped run two days of the Hour of Code project. All teachers and students participated.

*Is there a particular form of "messiness" that comes along with increasing student involvement in 1:1 programs?

Well, you can't always anticipate what will happen when you use technology in your lessons. The internet might be down, or a link that you used in the past might have changed. Things rarely go as planned, especially when turning in assignments. Someone forgets to put a document in a folder, or names the document wrong. An online program might not work the way it's supposed to, or the projection device displays in a strange way. The flip side is that students often think of new and inventive ways to use a program or figure out solutions.

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