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Student Agents

location_on Nurmijärvi, Finland

A model to develop the technology skills of the whole school community

Student Agents equips young people to share their ICT skills with their whole school community, supporting and training teachers and students alike. This comprehensive models involves mapping out the school's digital needs, training enthusiastic students and planning and implementing day-to-day activities to optimize ICT use.

HundrED 2019

Overview

HundrED has selected this innovation to

HundrED 2019

HundrED 2018

Finland 100

2013

Established

-

Children/users

1

Countries
Updated
November 22nd, 2022
It’s really inspirational to actually be able to teach others – to show what you’re capable of and to notice that the other person is learning what you’re teaching them.
- StudentAgent

About the innovation

What is StudentAgents?

The StudentAgent model was inspired by feedback from teachers, many of whom said it can be a challenge to keep up with digitalization. Schools are constantly creating different models to develop technical skills, but they can lack adequate resources for effective digital support.

Young people are more likely than their teachers to be familiar with technology and can often be more skilled in this area. The StudentAgent model uses these skills to benefit the entire school community. This innovation aims to support not only the work of teachers, who will gain new skills and teaching tools, but also the development of students' own skills and confidence. 

First, a team of eager students is formed; second, together with a teacher they then discuss the specific needs in their school; and then finally decide on an action plan to address them. StudentAgents support teachers during lessons and will also help, if necessary, outside the classroom with small everyday problems.

StudentAgents provides a flexible model to support the utilization of technology for teachers and students in the classroom. In the spirit of the reformed Finnish national core curriculum, the activity goes beyond both grade level and disciplinary boundaries. The role of the teacher is transformed from teacher to instructor, and students have the opportunity to teach as well as learn. At the same time, a sense of engagement among the students grows as they take responsibility for the development of the whole school community.

Impact & scalability

Impact & Scalability

Innovativeness

The innovation strives to share students' expertise in ICT with the entire school, empowering the students themselves as well as their community.

Impact

Engagement and inclusion grows among students and teachers gain the confidence and skills to more easily incorporate ICT into their teaching.

Scalability

Students plan the activities based on the school’s needs, meaning the model can be implemented in a variety of school contexts.

Steps

Choosing a teacher in charge
The teacher in charge should be aware of the kind of digital know-how the school will need in the near future.

It is good to find out, in broad terms, what issues could be helped with digital support. You can discuss this with school management, for example.

It would be good for the teacher in charge to have basic digital skills, so that they understand how digital tools support learning. This way the teacher can guide the StudentAgents in a helpful direction. 

An accurate mapping of needs
The StudentAgents map out what kinds of ICT issues teachers and students are facing and plan training and activities based on these needs. The teacher in charge can also list issues, for example based on a teachers´ meeting.

The principal and the teacher in charge of ICT education go through the implemented mapping or the results of the competence mapping and gather some of the themes that the StudentAgents can begin to tackle.

Note:

The themes can be based on, for example, digital tools or learning environments used by the school. People often need help with them, but don't know how to ask for it. Implementing even small changes to your habits can transform the way students learn.

Assembling the StudentAgent team
The teacher in charge gathers an enthusiastic team of students.

You can assemble your teams in different ways, for example:

  • Club activities as a framework for StudentAgents. Anyone interested can join. The activities and the different forms of participation take shape over time.
  • Organize an open search. Students write an application letter, in which they explain a little about themselves and their skills, as well as why they would make good StudentAgents.
  • StudentAgent activity as a optional subject. StudentAgent activity can also be one of the official voluntary subjects in the school. In this case, the activity is naturally tied to the everyday life of the school and the activity is provided with a clear teacher resource.
  • Common goals are set with the team for the academic year.

Things to note during implementation:

Engaging students is vital. It's a good idea to bring the students together right away and explain the benefits of the model to them. This way, students can immediately understand that their work is important and carries responsibility.
You should ensure that teachers and students are sufficiently informed about the StudentAgent program. A good way to start is to arrange a common development day for teachers and students.

During the beginning, pay attention to specialist skill areas of the students. It is easiest for students to start working on topics that are familiar to them. Based on the positive experiences gained, it is  then easier to expand the themes.

Designing and planning training packages
The StudentAgent team designs training packages based on observed needs. StudentAgents present the teacher with short, planned modules.

Planning:

  • Gather the StudentAgents together for a day.
  • Set goals during the morning. The goals should be set clearly so the students can easily understand them.
  • Prepare different types of training packages during the day together. When considering different types of training it is good to give students sufficient freedom, for example by offering alternatives. In the beginning, it's a good idea to start with a few main themes and develop content for them together with the StudentAgent team.
  • If available, you can also directly use requests from teachers for designing the packages. In this case, planning is made even more concrete when the StudentAgents know the outcome will answer an actual need.

Things to note:

Training packages work as a foundation for the training of StudentAgents, however, the students should be able to tailor the training to suit their personality. A suitable framework makes it easier to give assistance, especially in the beginning. In addition, a commonly developed framework usually also develops the StudentAgent’s own skills.

After this, StudentAgents will start implementing their planned training

Training methods can include:

  • Staff room visit: StudentAgents visit the staff room and counsel the teachers on, for example, how to use different mobile devices or applications.
  • Reception: StudentAgents have visiting hours, during which teachers can come and ask for help.
  • Teaching aid: The teacher may ask the StudentAgents to participate in their classes to help with a project using technology.

During lessons, StudentAgents help students and teachers alike.

Exchanging thoughts and developing the concept
It is a good idea to design a learning path for the Student Agents, either school-based or with another StudentAgent school. It's useful for teachers and agents to share their thoughts.

Tips for planning your own learning path:

  • Make regular schedules, even for individual agents.
  • Weekly brief meetings between StudentAgents bring structure and give an opportunity to reflect on your own activities and review your skills. You can also bring up current issues regarding the concept.
  • It is also important to reserve enough time for the meetings. This way StudentAgents can train one another.

Whenever possible, arrange meetings with other schools using the StudentAgent model. This way, StudentAgents can network and exchange experiences with other StudentAgents working in different schools. Remote networking and training is also possible.

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