A Case for developing Digital Leaders
I can’t emphasise enough the need for high quality, continuous training when embarking on any EdTech project: in order to have an impact, this is essential! It is likely that there will be an array of confidence levels amongst staff, right from those who already own a device and use it regularly, to those who have never even seen one! Whole staff training sessions are a useful starting place, however they tend to be quite broad and can leave the least confident, who often need the most help, behind. It is not a practical or sustainable solution to rely completely on external agencies to provide training. Plus, this will need to be repeated when there are staff changes and new pupils are enrolled. Why not overcome this by developing a student Digital Leader programme which harnesses the wealth of talent you already possess as a school?
Digital Leaders are defined by DigitalMe as “students with a passion to help their school shape vision and strategy around the use of technology” and that they “take on or develop leadership roles which provide advice and guidance as to the effectiveness of technology and they make sure that fellow students and their teachers have the skills to use those technologies effectively”. It is likely that many pupils are already familiar with using devices, so develop this and use it to the school’s advantage by placing this group at the forefront of staff and student training. One of the main responsibilities of our Digital Leaders is to offer regular training sessions for staff, students and parents. This includes sessions focusing on device basics, eSafety and how to use individual educational apps. This ensures that training is ongoing and also overcomes the issues associated with the introduction of new staff or students who have not previously attended a training day with an outside agency. Perhaps more significantly, this is flexible and can easily be adapted to suit the requests of key stakeholders as and when necessary.
As well as training, Digital Leaders fulfill many other roles which aid the smoothness of an EdTech project. My Digital Leaders also focus on offering support through our in school Genius Bar. Here they take queries from students, staff and parents and offer them assistance to help them get the most from their devices. In addition, our Digital Leaders are also our first port of call when testing new technologies or apps. Their expertise means they are ideally suited for this and also means that they are ahead of the game when it is released to the rest of the school and are able to offer support straight away.
Despite being well established, our Digital Leaders are constantly evolving in order to stay ahead of the curve so that they remain well placed to offer advice, support and guidance to all!