Next school year, Mason Middle School and Mason High School students and staff will have a new place to turn when they aren't quite sure how to get their technology to work - student-run Innovation Labs!
Mason students will provide informal, as-needed technology support to other students, and to school staff. The Innovation Labs will be located in the high school's Learning Commons and the middle school's Media Center, and will be fully developed, implemented, maintained and staffed by students. The labs leverage student interest in technology, create a support system for computers, software, and hardware, and support a culture of collaboration.
"The goal of the Labs is to assist in providing high impact learning experiences for our students through the effective use of technology, while providing staff support as we move into a more one-to-one [one student to one device] environment," explains Jonathan Cooper, Innovative Learning Officer. "The Innovation Labs are a wonderful leadership opportunity for students who will hone their technical and people skills as they provide an important service to our school community. We appreciate that this environment helps create a culture where asking for help or making a mistake is seen as OK - something we need to embrace if we are 'growing greatness together!'"
In January, a group of students at the high school and at the middle school were selected to be members of the Innovation Lab Leadership Team through a challenging interview process. The student Leadership teams worked collaboratively to develop their scope, and to design what the Innovation Labs will look like with guidance from Mason City Schools Innovative Learning Officer, the Lead Learning Coach for Technology, the High School Technology Gurus and the LAN Support Specialists.
MHS junior Aditya Singh is the director of the management team and fellow junior Jasmine Bacchus is one of the managers of the Innovation Lab at MHS, while seventh graders Riley Johansen, Snehal Mishra and Victoria Villagran are three of the leaders for the Innovation Lab at MMS. These students recently laid out their goals for the Innovation Labs to the Mason School Board during the April 13 board meeting.
“One of our short term goals it to implement a Genius Bar (to be opened during the 2016-2017 school year) in the Learning Commons, which will kind of be like the Apple Help Desk,” said Bacchus. “This will be a place where both students and teachers can come during the day to get help with their technology.”
They will also provide assistance with the district's new learning management platform, Schoology, which will replace Edline next school year. Additionally, they hope to be a resource for staff who are interested in learning effective ways to incorporate technology into classrooms.
“The goal for the middle school is to follow the lead for the high school and to find ways to improve MMS' use of technology while incorporating it into student and teacher daily schedules,” shared Johansen.
MMS would also like to incorporate a Genius Bar for its students, and Johansen emphasizes that students will not only have their technology fixed at the Genius Bar, but will also be taught by Innovation Lab staffers how to correct the problem on their own. Knowing how to troubleshoot and fix issues on students’ own without help could make a huge impact on technology use at Mason Schools.
“One of our long term goals for the Innovation Labs is to remodel the Learning Commons so that students can use it for a variety of reasons,” added Singh. “Hopefully within the next two years we can start implementing our design and make the Learning Commons even more awesome than it already is.”
Singh also hoped to gain sponsorship from companies such as Apple or Dell to receive laptops that can be given to students for their educational use.