They call themselves members of the CIA, although their work is anything but secretive. “They” are Harker’s tech-savvy grade 5 Computer Instruction Assistants (aka CIAs) who, in early March, gave a well-received presentation at the Silicon Valley Computer Using Educators (SVCUE) conference.
Seven group members (Andrew Chavez, Nikhil Gargeya, Jason Lin, John Lynch, Akshay Manglik, Russell Yang and Bowen Yin) spoke about their work as CIAs during SVCUE’s Teach Through Technology event, which was held at the upper school and attracted more than 400 attendees.
SVCUE is the local affiliate for San Mateo and Santa Clara counties of Computer-Using Educators Inc. of California (CUE). CUE and SVCUE are committed to networking, resources and the integration of all forms of technology throughout the curriculum.
“The 2014 Teach Through Technology event was a huge success!” enthused Lisa Diffenderfer, assistant director of instructional technology, adding that the conference included a variety of presenters and workshops designed to help teachers enhance the classroom experience by integrating technology. “The students did a great job representing the school and the wonderful work they are performing as a member of the CIA team.”
The CIA group comprises 18 grade 5 students. Both teachers and students can take advantage of the CIA website, which is hosted on the Harker server. Through it, classmates can submit requests for tech help, especially regarding ongoing issues. Also available on the site are helpful hints/tutorials for online programs, printable documents, FAQs, videos and other relevant applications.
To become a voluntary student tech helper, fifth graders must be nominated by a teacher, tech savvy and doing well academically. During CIA meetings, which are held during lunch, group members go over agenda items, such as establishing new networks and email protocol.
The main purpose of the group is to help other students troubleshoot minor issues while using their Chromebooks in class (major problems are directed to their teachers in computer lab). When a tech request form is submitted to the CIA, all members of the group can view it.
During the SVCUE conference, CIA members spoke passionately about their role as student tech helpers at Harker. “One audience member suggested that I pay these students for their services!” said Diffenderfer. “I’m going to start paying them in dessert at our lunch meetings. Another audience member from a local high school was very impressed with the students’ enthusiasm for assisting their fellow classmates and teachers.”