In between classes, these kids troubleshoot tablets

While walking the halls in between classes or taking her lunch break at Mount Olive High School in New Jersey, freshman Sena Mensah fields lots of questions from her classmates as they pass by her. Questions like, “What apps can we download?” Or “Does this app work at home?”

When she gets home from school, more questions are texted to her from friends. She doesn’t mind; after all, she signed up for this. As one of 15 members of Mount Olive’s Advance Team, or “A Team,” Mensah serves as the first line of tech support for the 400 students and 31 teachers who now use Amplify Tablets every day in the classroom and at home.

The Mount Olive School District recently launched its 1:1 initiative with Amplify, and felt that its own technologically inclined students would serve as a great resource for the initiative. So they picked 15 students from a pool of applicants, trained them on both the student and teacher versions of the tablet, and set up a help-desk email system; all questions from students and teachers first go to the A Team; if they can’t answer them, the questions then move on to Mount Olive and Amplify tech support teams.

“I tried out for the A Team because I really love technology,” Mensah says. “Being able to learn about the tablet was very intriguing to me, and I had lots of fun.”

Freshman Gavin Weeber, also a lover of technology, appreciated that his A Team status would give him a sneak peek at the device over the summer.

“I joined as a way to learn how to use the tablets early on, and to be able to help people instead of being helped,” Weeber says.

Mount Olive educators believe placing students in a support role makes them feel a sense of ownership and responsibility in the initiative. It gives them confidence to be able to troubleshoot the issues not just of their peers, but also their teachers.

Weeber says students and teachers are getting comfortable with the new practices they’re putting into place with the tablets in class, and finding that it saves them time from performing mundane tasks.

“Even the two minutes each day that are saved from pressing a button instead of passing out hand-outs makes for more time and less mess,” Weeber says. “It’s helping in all the small ways to make a better learning environment.”

“I think the Amplify Tablets are a great extension of learning for our generation,” Mensah says, “and I am very happy to be a part of it.”