ELKHART — Like Best Buy’s “Geek Squad” or Apple’s “Genius Bar,” Elkhart Memorial High School has a tech service desk of its own – run by students.
Called the “student tech team,” the group is currently made up of 13 students who rotate shifts to provide students and staff with technical assistance for their iPads throughout the school day.
The students participate in the Memorial Student Tech Services Class as part of the Career Exploration Internship program. The program is led by teacher Heidi Krusenklaus and the district's tech services team.
On Wednesday, the school held a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony for Memorial’s Tech Service Desk located in a school hallway. The new space was the school’s former bookstore.
The concept of the service desk started last year as a way to help reduce heavy workloads for the district's technology services to allow the department to focus on large scale projects. This, in turn, would provide the students with real-world, hands-on learning opportunities as they manage day-to-day technical support, service desk officials said.
“They were flushed with all these tasks many of which could be solved by students,” said Dakota Powers, Memorial senior, who’s part of the tech service team.
Because they didn’t have the space last year, Powers said they worked from an advisory class. The students also received no credit for their work.
Now, students spend time troubleshooting at the help desk and in the building. They also build an individual digital portfolio, participate in a weekly tech seminar for skills development, complete internship courses, and finish with a capstone project.
Students also accompany the ECS Technology Services team on tech calls throughout the district for additional learning opportunities.
“All students have to do is bring their iPads down to the help desk, and we’ll fix their problems or diagnose what’s going on and if we can’t well call (ECS Tech Services team) and have them figure it out,” Powers explained.
If Memorial’s tech service desk can’t fix or diagnose a problem, then they will send it to the district’s technology department, Powers explained.
Memorial senior Emmanuel Alvarez explained that the group trained, job shadowed and worked with ECS staff to prepare to be able to assist others with their tech problems.
“The training was pretty thorough,” Alvarez explained. “We had training with PowerTeacher Pro and used different soft wares like JAM and we’re now getting Zendesk which where we’re going to be managing tickets and solving problems.”
As far as traffic, Sean Khomphengchan, a junior, said the service desk is typically busiest at the start of school or around lunch.
“The need for us has been huge,” he said. “I enjoy working with technology and helping folks. That’s been a huge chunk of my life since seventh grade.”
Kenneth Peterson, service desk coordinator, said the student tech team has been a great help to the district’s technology department.
“The students cover at least 100 tickets a month which definitely helps the (tech) department,” he said. “It also provides great educational opportunities for the students because it gives them real-world job type experience.”