We’ve been meeting weekly with students and staff from Golda Meir and Washington High School since we kicked things off this summer. The teams put together a quick survey that went out to students at both schools to capture issues their peers ran into during the first week of school. Those results confirmed a lot of what we heard from students over the summer, with a large percentages of students reporting issues connecting for class, getting their assignments, or having distance learning technology work as expected with at least one class.
The team from Golda is now working on two parallel paths– the first has been to define a process where students can step in to offer help. Most calls now run through a tech lead at the school. She’s been logging the types of issues folks are calling about so that we can get a sense of the volume of support requests. She will also be handing off a sample of those calls for students on the tech team to respond to. This will help us understand how well the support process envisioned works, and what students will need to have in place to respond to help requests.
While those experiments are running, we are using the Lean Startup Canvas to capture the team’s vision for effort. Our first pass focused on defining the customer, identifying what customer problems the team will address, the unique advantages a student-led team brings to bear, and the value proposition for the endeavor. At this week’s meeting we’ll take what we’ve learned from student’s experiments taking support requests to flesh out and refine the model in greater detail. Stay tuned!
What if students took a lead role in understanding the issues families face as they adapt to distance learning?
What if we invited them to work with school and district technology staff and industry mentors to design and implement systems to support them?
What if this was done, not as a one-off exercise, but as a student run enterprise that could operate over the long term and evolve to support changing needs?
For the past several weeks we’ve been working with students and teachers from MPS’s Golda Meir middle school and Washington High School to explore what student-led tech support might look like. Over a series of Zoom calls, we’ve talked with students about the issues they ran into as the district moved to distance learning last spring, what the experience was like for peers and family, and where they see opportunities to help make things betterfor all students.
While purely technical issues like an inability to upload files, access video, or the stability of a video call session were certainly present, what stood out were issues related to the use of technology. For example:
- The need to constantly check if new assignments had been posted
- Competition for use of a device or internet bandwidth with a sibling
- Finding a distraction free place in the home to work from
- Having access to technology when the student is cared for outside the home.
Student Generated Solutions
As the start of school approached for MPS, the team put together two things to help prepare for distance learning this fall.
The first was a video by the students at Golda Meir in which they talked through several issues they ran into last spring and what simple actions their teachers might take to help address those. That video was shared with Golda staff who were appreciative of the opportunity to hear directly from their students.
Second, the team put together a survey to go out this week to capture the type and frequency of issues students ran into with the first week of distance learning. The data from that will inform a larger effort this fall to identify where and how a student-led team can provide support.
Interested in getting involved as educator, sponsor, or industry adviser?