Escape to Edscape: BHS Help Desk Student Reflections

Presentation season for Burlington High School Help Desk students has begun!

Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 8.40.10 PM


Our first presentation, “Utilizing Student Genius: Creating a Student Tech Team,” was Saturday, October 18th at Edscape 2014 in New Milford, New Jersey. Three senior members of the Help Desk, Michael Seleman, Manas Purohit, and Nathan Rippin, attended the conference and represented the BHS Help Desk program. Based on the feedback we received from session attendees, my students did an excellent job sharing information about our Help Desk-Student Technology Innovation and Integration-course at BHS.

Reaching A Global Audience

My students not only presented, in room 331 at New Milford High School, they interviewed the conference keynote speaker via a Google Hangout on Air, which allowed them to present to the entire world! Additionally, my students networked with educators and others students, and learned about various trending topics in education. In our debrief, my students shared how lucky they feel to be attending such a technologically advanced school. Many of the tools they were hearing about throughout day are tools my students have been using for the past three years. Frankly, I think my students could have taught more than half of the technology focused sessions that were offered. Although not specifically mentioned, I think my students feel a renewed sense of appreciation for being in a district where the integration of technology for teaching and learning is valued and supported.


Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 8.04.12 PM

Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 8.15.18 PM

Empowering Student Voice

Connected Educator Month is “ending” in 11 days. I will continue to preach that the most powerful and important voices to listen to, during this month and for the rest of the school year, are those of our students. It’s why in every Twitter chat I’m a part of, I make it a point to share student work. In doing this, I am role modeling for my students what it means to be connected. I am then able to provide opportunities for my students to connect as well and hopefully those connections are with a global audience. So that’s what the remainder of this post is about…connecting student voice to the world. We’ll start with the interview with Josh Stumpenhorst, a Storify of Tweets from the day curated (without me asking him to do that by the way!) by Nathan, and last but definitely not least, the thoughts and impressions of each student.

Manas Purohit-Class of 2015

“Attending Edscape has been one of the best decisions I’ve made so far in my 17 year old life. Walking into the educational technology conference with my fellow students, Michael Seleman and Nathan Rippin, and my teacher/mentor, Mrs. Scheffer, I was unsure about what to expect. Walking out, I was inspired. After our group presented on creating a student-run help desk, I talked to Sandra Paul, Director of Technology at Sayreville Public School. She reminded me of the importance of pursuing my passion and was one of the first people I’ve ever met, besides Ms. Scheffer, to take an active interest in the ideas of me and Mike. Our end goal is to create a mobile application which will allow student-run help desks to solve problems from anywhere. Ms. Paul not only encouraged this idea, she guaranteed us that our efforts wouldn’t go to waste. And when it’s all said and done, what more could a student want?”

Michael Seleman- Class of 2015- This post originally appeared on Michael’s blog

As a student in a building crowded with technology specialists and educational instructors, you could definitely say that I was taken right out of my comfort zone by the Edscape Conference 2014. Never before had I seen such an assembly of experts from all over the country, each spreading their own message and collaborating simultaneously. And so what I had originally thought to be just another technology seminar, ended up being an eye-opening experience to say the least.

photo (4)

The conference kicked off with a presentation from keynote speaker, Josh Stumpenhorst, renowned educational instructor and IL Educator of the Year in 2012. During his presentation, he mentioned a couple of key points regarding the role of educators in student growth. According to Stumpenhorst, “If you’re teaching now the same way you were teaching 10 years ago, you’re probably doing something wrong”. There’s no question that the world is constantly changing; whether for better or for worse is debatable. But what’s not debatable is that the learning methods of this generation should not be limited to those of the previous generation. But what is the role of the educator in this ever-evolving system? The answer is simple, but it’s easier said than done. Stumpenhorst, for one, feels “It’s our responsibility as educators to tap into student passion and allow them to be innovative within and without the classroom”. As children, we were insatiably curious, eager to learn about anything and everything that crossed our path. But as we developed within classroom, that curiosity was suppressed, and took a back seat to mastering the curriculum presented to us. So what we need now is to rekindle this curiosity in students in any way possible. In Lincoln Junior High (Naperville, IL), Stumpenhorst has implemented “innovation days”, during which students are given an entire school day to work on a project in their field of choice. What better way to give students the opportunity to explore passions outside of the established curriculum. That being said, we at BHS are not lacking in outlets for student innovation either. Our branch of TED Ed, for example, encourages students to pursue innovative ideas and share them with the world.

But If I’m being honest, the highlight of the conference was meeting, Sandra Paul, Director of Technology at Sayreville Public Schools. As soon as we were introduced, I could tell that Ms. Paul was genuinely interested in what my classmates and I were doing at BHS Help Desk. Talking to her, I realized that what we do as Help Desk students is bigger than the Burlington community. Since Help Desk has taken off at BHS, word has spread about the benefits of a student-run help desk within any technologically advanced school. But that aside, I think it’s safe to say that Mrs. Paul encouraged me to pursue my passions outside of the classroom. Her appreciation for what my classmate, Manas Purohit, and I hope to accomplish in the realm of technology is truly inspiring. I’m not going to lie; heading into Edscape, “networking” wasn’t exactly something that appealed to me. But now I see the value of being connected to others of the same interest in a world where opportunity is almost omnipresent. And to think, that’s just one of many key take-aways from today’s experience.

All in all, attending the Edscape Conference was an experience to remember. What my classmates and I have learned here simply can’t be taught inside the classroom, but is undoubtedly just as important. So thanks to Mrs Scheffer and BHS as a whole for giving me the opportunity to grow and explore beyond the confines of my comfort zone here at Edscape.

P.S. I was one of three BHS students presenting at the conference! If you missed our session, take a look at the presentation linked here.

Nathank Rippin- Class of 2015- This post originally appeared on Nathan’s blog 

People always ask me what is my favorite thing about Help Desk is. I say the presentations and conferences. My non-helpdesk peers scoff at me for this notion. Why you ask? It is probably due to the connotation that conferences require extra work and are demanding. However this was the contrary. On the way down, my fellow geniuses Micheal and Manas joined by Mrs. Scheffer had lengthy conversations about various things. Topics ranged from starting a businesses to finding a job in the modern workplace. We spent quality time together and bonded.

The conferences itself was mesmerizing. When we told educators and local “in the know” students that we were from Burlington, MA they thought of us differently. I always heard that people looked towards us for advice in going one to one. But seeing is believing. People were excited to hear what we were doing and what we had to say. There was the is phenomenal group of high school students presenting on their real world projects ranging from drone education to human trafficking awareness. I spoke with them as a group and it was awesome. I look to have them on our next Help Desk Live episode. People loved our presentations and are  looking to have us help them with technology integration at their schools. They also want Nov. 20th to come soon so they can visit our school.

I would like to shout out to my teacher Mrs. Scheffer for driving four hours each way. I look forward to spending more time with her and my fellow peers. Look at the Storify below for more in depth coverage.

A Word of Thanks

I’d like to thank the Burlington Public Schools School Committee, the BHS administration, and the parents of my students for allowing them to represent BHS at the 2014 Edscape Conference.

Upcoming Conferences
Students will be presenting at Mass CUE on Thursday, October 23 and in December at the Christa McAuliffe Technology Conference in New Hampshire. Later this year, we hope to collaborate with other tech teams and coordinate our own conference. Stay tuned for details and for

3 thoughts on “Escape to Edscape: BHS Help Desk Student Reflections

  1. Pingback: Student Tech Teams 101: A Toolkit for Educators | Jennifer L. Scheffer

  2. Pingback: Help Desk Students Present at DLD Medfield | Burlington High School Help Desk

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s