Mentorship Needs to be Part of the Culture
If you don’t already have a mentorship program in place, you are missing a huge opportunity to establish a culture of technology support at your school. For students – becoming a mentor allows them to be leaders amongst their peers. We have had great success with assigning special needs students with mentorship roles. It really helps with self-confidence. For your teachers – they might not be the most savvy technology users and they really need the support from both peers and student mentor experts. There are many ways to set up mentorship programs such as:
- Team teachers with a partner who is at a different technical proficeincy.
- Give each teacher the task of becoming the resident expert in just one piece of hardware or software.
- Develop student mentors.
- Run a class call “Tech support” and station students in the media lab during a single class period. Let them solve issues from across the student body and teaching staff.
- Run an after school club.
- Team older student with younger students.
It doesn’t matter how you do it, just get started with formalizing a mentorship community in your school. Then adapt and change it to suit your needs, as you go.
What We Did
Digital Wish partnered with Microsoft to bring two different after-school programs to 30 schools. We ran one program for Microsoft Kodu game development, and another for Microsoft Expression web design. These after-school programs were coordinated by Digital Wish staff and run by local high school mentors in 30 Vermont elementary schools. Microsoft graciously donated all the Dreamspark license codes which were granted to all 1,500 participating mentors, students, and teachers, allowing access to an incredible suite of educational software including Microsoft Kodu and Expression. You can request the same donation for your school. It’s free!
Each student received a code that allowed them free access to over twenty Microsoft software programs geared toward education. They could use it at home or at school. So during the after school hours, we’d hold project-building clubs for websites and computer games.
If you haven’t discovered Kodu yet, you need to check it out. It’s a program that lets kids as young as upper-elementary level, build 3D computer games. It’s fantastic! We had kids in 4th grade building “shoot-em-up” games in the first class period. Get it here.