Waterloo High School may offer students an opportunity to learn advanced information technology skills while helping their peers troubleshoot computer issues. Luke Stayer, District Network Technician, came before the board Nov. 11 with a presentation about creating a student help desk that would begin in the high school and potentially expand to the middle school.

Stayer, who has been with the district for a bit more than a year, attended a conference in March where he learned how the New Berlin School District formed a student help desk program.

“I think this program would have a tremendous benefit for us,” he said. “It would have us in the IT department. Something we struggle regularly with is being able to focus on the bigger picture projects to make school technology better because we’re busy with the day-to-day – I’m fixing a Chromebook instead of getting Gmail up.”

According to the network technician, the program would expose students to conceptual and real world information technology applications by helping the district’s IT staff through various measures including maintaining Waterloo’s one-to-one Chromebook program, supporting hardware and software platforms, and completing special projects.

“There are many things students could help us with on a day-to-day basis,” Stayer said.

He said the district has already seen the benefits of the IT mentorship program open only to seniors.

“We already have a feel for how they could help us and what benefit they bring,” the network technician said.

Additionally, the students who are part of the help desk program would have opportunities to take online coursework to further their IT knowledge.

According to Stayer, the student help desk would be set up in four tiers: support trainee, support technician, support specialist, and support supervisor. The levels do not correspond directly with the student’s grade level, but with the individual’s accomplishments at the help desk and their personal interests. At the top tier, a student would be able to pursue a professional IT certification.

“This structure is taken from the New Berlin help desk program, which I thought was really good,” he said. “I want all students at the help desk to reach tier two.”

Tier two would have students assisting the district’s IT staff with day-to-day operations including Chromebook repairs and hardware and software troubleshooting.

Students would be required to go through an application process in order to participate in the help desk program. This would consist of completing a standard job application, providing references and participating in a formal interview.

Stayer said based on how he envisions the program, there would be no costs associated with the student help desk.

“It may be a little more time investment initially, but all the coursework is free for educational use,” he said, noting there are funds available through the state to help pay for students to become certified in areas of IT.

High school principal Brad Donner suggested opening up the program to juniors during this year’s spring semester, but not offer credits for the program.

“That would be a good target to get it off and running next year,” he said.

During the meeting, the board also approved changes to the high school curriculum and course guides. At the high school, next year all AP exams will cost $94 and AP literature will be offered during the 2020-2021 school year and AP language will be available during the 2021-2022 academic year. Psychology 1 and 2 will also be replaced with AP psychology.

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