As you can see, thanks to Xin Zhang, Amit Patel, Harsh Dedyiha, and Ronak Patel, the Help Desk blog has been redesigned with a fresh new theme for 2014. This was something I had been wanting to do since the fall, so I was thrilled when Xin came to me shortly before the holiday break with the idea to change the aesthetics of the blog; an example of student initiative at its finest!
The New Look of Help Desk: Inside and Out
Not only has Help Desk changed its digital appearance, but the physical space has received a makeover as well. The interior of Help Desk has been updated and it is now a comfortable and relaxing environment for students and teachers. Help Desk is in its third year of operation and its purpose and goals continues to change. For the most part, the days of troubleshooting technical iPad issues are over, as Burlington faculty and students understand how to use their devices. While we still have the occasional Help Desk visitor who needs his or her Gmail account password reset, and periodically a teacher or staff member needs assistance with setting up a projector or mirroring from his or her iPad, more and more students and teachers are coming to Help Desk with integration questions. In other words, Help Desk still exists to solve technology problems, however the nature of the problems is shifting. The goal of Help Desk is moving towards providing suggestions on how to best integrate technology into the curriculum to engage students, provide differentiated instruction, personalized learning experiences, and ultimately achieve student learning goals. This transition has already started to happen.
Fall of 2013: Semester in Review
During the first semester, my Help Desk students and I assisted students and teachers with a wide variety of educational technology tools including Evernote, Google Drive, Gmail, Dropbox, and Notability, just to name a few. Students have visited Help Desk asking for suggestions for the best app or web tool to use for specific assignments and projects. And during the Hour of Code on December 13th, Help Desk students provided hands-on assistance with a variety of coding tutorials. I’ve had the opportunity to go into classrooms and assist Science, World Language, Psychology, English and Social Studies students and teachers. As first semester comes to a close, I have the opportunity to work with Christina Chang, one of our Art teachers, and will help her students set up art portfolios using Blogger. My students and I will also get to team up with Sean Musselman, Science Specialist for Burlington Public Schools and Wendy Pavlieck, Live Animal Curator at the Burlington Science Center, and assist them with creating iMovie tutorials.
Looking Ahead: Goals for 2014
The goals I have for second semester include offering hands-on “hour of technology” sessions, a spin-off of the Hour of Code, every Friday for all Burlington High School teachers. These sessions will be led by Help Desk students and will focus on tools that can be used in multiple content areas. The sessions will essentially be professional development for teachers and will also give my students the opportunity to further develop their public speaking skills. Help Desk students will also be conducting comprehensive app reviews on a more consistent basis and will be sharing their reviews with the entire faculty via our blog and e-mail. We will not be focusing on “technology for technology’s sake”, rather students will offer their perspectives on apps which they feel would be the most engaging for students and can be applied to a variety of content areas. I also plan to continue to feature guest bloggers and am in the process of launching a new digital citizenship resource page. Finally, I hope to be in as many classrooms as possible during the second semester offering my support to teachers and their students in any way that I can. I am excited to work with my colleague Jim Moriarty Additionally, now that the Help Desk features a sleek and comfortable seating area, I hope more students and teachers will come down during their free period or study and work with a Help Desk student. We are eager to collaborate with students and teachers and discuss how technology can be used to enhance a lesson, assignment, or project. We look forward to seeing you in 2014 and hope you will take advantage of all Help Desk has to offer!
Happy New Year!