Mentoring: Student Technology Mentors

This post is part of a series examining research and theory on mentoring and coaching from the perspective of mentoring school videoconference coordinators.

Article Reference
Butler, T., & Chao, T. (2001). Partners for change: Students as effective technology mentors. Active Learning in Higher Education, 2(2), 101-113.

This article described using university students as technology mentors for faculty. I realize this is a higher ed article, but I thought the lessons could still be applied. One of the elementary schools in our county uses students as technology helpers for teachers – making PPTs, assisting with the printer problems, etc. Could a school have a VC Team that helped teachers use VC? Something to think about!

The University of Alberta’s Arts Technologies for Learning Centre uses undergraduate and graduate students to work part-time as technology mentors. The faculty come to ask for assistance, and students are assigned to them to advise, guide and coach the instructors. The goal is to help the instructors feel more comfortable in using instructional technology. The benefits include growth for both the faculty member and the student. Sometimes the faculty ask for instructional design assistance beyond the level of the student; then the student consults with others to bring the necessary assistance to the faculty member.

The students must have technical and interpersonal skills to be selected, as well as the ability to learn quickly, listen well, and be patient.

The students benefit from increased technical skills, increased communication skills, and the benefit of thinking more about teaching and learning. The faculty were saitsfied with the services and the found the mentor support helpful.

The authors believe the success factors were:

  • An emphasis on change for the faculty, not just getting work done for them
  • Student mentors are from the same field as the faculty members
  • Respect for the students’ load
  • Student mentors who are willing to learn and innovate

Challenges included:

  • The student turnover rate
  • The need to provide an instructional strategies orientation for the student mentors

Implications for VC
Of course, K12 students are not college students or graduate students. However, let’s brainstorm some ways students could help teachers during a VC:

  • Dialing the far site; redialing if the call drops
  • Managing the microphone (muting/unmuting)
  • Managing the remote (camera presets)
  • Managing the visuals (document camera, computer, etc.)

How could students help teachers before a VC?

  • Could students help search for programs that are at a specific grade level, cover a specific topic, and are within a certain cost range?
  • Students could also help to gather the materials and props necessary for a VC.
  • Students could follow a checklist to make sure phone numbers, IP numbers, etc. were gathered for the event

Would it work best to have one student in each classroom trained to be a VC mentor?

Would it be better to have a team of students? Would they be able to leave class to help start a VC?

Young students help teachers bring technology tools into their lessons. Credit: Edutopia

Some other models

What are some other ways mentoring relationships could be set up in K-12 schools?

Your Turn
What do you think of this idea? Can students provide some mentoring support to teachers in integrating videoconferencing in the curriculum? Have you tried any of these ideas in your school? Please comment!

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