Alyssa Borelli, Contributing Writer
Northborough/Southborough – When it comes to teachers using new technologies in the classroom, Felicia Rutigliano, an instructional support teacher at Algonquin Regional High School (ARHS) said “Let’s face it, the kids are much more tech savvy than most of us adults.”
A team of ARHS students, known as Students Working to Advance Technology (SWAT), are promoting the use of technology in the classroom and in the community by creating tutorials and hosting workshops throughout the year.
With ARHS’ recent implementation of Canvas, a learning management system where teachers can post grades, assignments, and other course content, SWAT team members have been actively assisting teachers to use the new technology.
Aimee Selby, a chemistry teacher who has seen the SWAT team’s work firsthand, points out that team members “cannot only help us, but can help their peers who are more receptive to a peer of theirs, than they would be necessarily to a teacher.”
Julie Doyle, instructional media teacher at ARHS and the team’s advisor said, “I feel like I’m working with my colleagues. I learn from them and they learn from me. It’s efficient and professional.”
Doyle recruits and trains students to serve as ambassadors for the new implementations of technologies in the classroom. Each member independently researches that technology and with Doyle’s guidance, devises a plan to help teachers and students implement the new software. After the students gain enough experience in developing training materials, she allows them to manage training workshops.
The team hosted a technology workshop at the Northborough Free Library, where community members were invited to bring in their electronic devices. SWAT team members then worked one-on-one with attendees to help set up electronic devices and show them how to connect to the library’s services, such as e-books.
The team has also taught coding courses to Fannie E. Proctor Elementary School students in Northborough.
“It was great to see students excited about technology,” said senior Ryan Stroble.
Senior Alex Chen added, “I was surprised [the Proctor School] students, at such a young age, were already interested in technology and were ready to start learning how to code.”
For Stroble, his favorite part about SWAT is sharing his passion for technology within the classrooms at ARHS and in the community while gaining public speaking skills.
The team attended the Massachusetts Computer Using Educators (MassCue) conference at Gillette Stadium where they presented on the need for student tech support teams in high schools. According to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Office of Digital Learning, programs like these are growing: “As the students are providing technical support, the high school doesn’t need to hire support staff to meet the needs of the faculty and student body.”
Former ARHS principal Tom Mead said, “It took us many years to come to this, but now that we have it, I think we’re reaping the benefits of technology in the classroom.”
To learn more about ARHS’ SWAT Team events, and to access student-produced tutorials, visit arhsswat.blogspot.com, or follow them on Twitter, @algonquinswat.