By Sarah Johnson
Missourian Staff Writer
Want to know how it works? Just ask a kid.
That’s the idea behind a new student-led group at Union High School that is helping teachers throughout the district integrate technology into their classrooms.
With the implementation of the district’s new Bring Your Own Device policy, superintendents recognized a need for help integrating the new program and a need to help teachers realize the potential of using the BYOD program in their classrooms.
BYOD is a new policy that allows students to bring laptops, tablets, smartphones and other electronic devices to the classroom and use them for assignments and research projects.
The district hired high school social studies teacher Josh Hall as an instructional technology specialist and instituted the Wildcat Instructional Techology (WITS) program.
Hall leads groups of four students in three classes each afternoon as the students research educational applications and websites for teachers and find them more ways to integrate technology into lesson plans.
His role is not so much to teach in the traditional sense, but to facilitate learning.
“I direct learning,” Hall said. I provide a skeleton of the task and turn the kids loose.”
WITS also researches and implements practices such as flip learning, a practice where teachers can video a lesson, send it home with students to watch, then students do the homework in the classroom with the help of the teacher.
“(It’s a way of) developing collaborative relationships with our faculty,” Hall said. “(WITS) students have the ability to drive to other schools to assist teachers throughout the district.”
Hall said WITS has been instrumental in forming policies for the BYOD program, as students developed instructions for the student body, a BYOD contract for students, and a digital citizenship curriculum.
WITS students have been working on making a series of videos addressing issues associated with technology, such as cyber bullying and “sexting,” the latter which three students, Zach Lanham, Nick Schumaker and Robert Ward, presented to the board of education at its last meeting Sept. 17.
WITS is also a “Geek Squad” of sorts, helping both faculty and students troubleshoot problems and assisting them with their devices in general.
The group has also extended its services to the community by helping some local businesses learn how to use Google Docs.