• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Chromebook Clinic allows students to help students

When a technology issue arises in class, other students and even her teacher will often ask eighth-grader Malk Al Mimar for help because they know she’s “the tech person.” And she’s not the only student at Woodford County Middle School who has become a technology specialist.

The six students who run Chromebook Clinic respond to a variety of issues related to the tablet devices, including cracked screens or broken keyboards, and sometimes they reset an operating system, eighth-grader Dalton Wells says.

All eyes look to school network administrator Clayton Pack when the students are asked how they developed skills to make basic repairs to Chromebooks. Pack says he did some demonstrations that walked them through various scenarios so they became more and more comfortable making repairs for the clinic’s January launch.

Besides freeing up Pack to handle larger issues, he describes the hands-on learning opportunities of Chromebook Clinic as a way for students to develop technology skills they’ll use in high school, college and a career.

Conner Brumley, a seventh-grader, has aspirations to work for Google or Apple someday so this hands-on Chromebook Clinic class will help develop skills vital to that career path, he says.

The sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders in Woodford County Middle School’s Student Technology Leadership Program (STLP) were asked if they were interested in helping run a student help desk, first-year STLP Coordinator Kim Joyner says.

“I kind of jumped in,” eighth-grader Samara Miller says, “because I really like working with technology.”

That interest began at Southside Elementary School, where her mom Candy Luttrell continues working with technology as library media specialist.

“I’ve been a tech person all my life,” says Dalton. “I’ve been taking apart microwaves for as long as I can remember.”

Malk’s dad teaches technology-related classes at WCMS and says she’s been around iPads and other devices her entire life. Samara says other students are more comfortable telling someone their own age what actually happened to their Chromebook because they can relate to the circumstances that led to their device being damaged.

Because of this comfort level, Pack says some students are more willing to bring their Chromebooks in for repair when an issue arises.

“Usually,” says Malk, “they just want to get their computer back as soon as possible.”

Because she and other students are running a Chromebook Clinic, their peers are often only without their devices for 15 to 20 minutes instead of three or four hours, according to Pack. “That’s an extremely big deal,” he says.

These student technology specialists make repairs during hour-long rotations at the Chromebook Clinic in a corner of the library/media center.

Typically, students drop off their devices for repairs at the Chromebook Clinic and then return to class so they’re not missing instruction time. Their device is returned to them after the repair has been made, explains Pack.

When asked if Chromebooks break frequently, Dalton says, “Not under normal use, but in a middle school setting they do break a lot.”

Fortunately for them, students are available at the Chromebook Clinic to make the repairs, so there’s less down time for a device that’s become vital to their learning.

“Technology allows us to differentiate education (at every student’s individual level),” says Joyner. “... So almost every teacher is using the Chromebook or the Internet in some way, shape or form.”

When students running the Chromebook Clinic are not busy making repairs on devices, they have a Google classroom set up in their corner of the library/media center to work on a Google certification, says Pack. He says this will allow some of his students to eventually earn a credential to show their expertise in the field.

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