How to get the most out of pupils with a talent for ICT

At the Haarlemmermeer Lyceum, ICT-skilled pupils fix minor ICT problems. This cuts both ways: they enhance their skills and others get the help they need.

Minor ICT problems

No Wi-fi access, problems logging on, not being able to print or not knowing how to install or download something. There is an endless stream of ‘minor’ ICT problems that ICT-skilled pupils can help others with. And they’re not only enhancing their own ICT skills. They’re also learning to collaborate, communicate and take responsibility.

How does the school organise it?

At the Haarlemmermeer Lyceum pupils choose what they do during the 5th period. One of the options is helping the ICT staff. This way, the ICT employee gets help from two pupils every fifth period. Very nice: the employee is less busy and everyone with an ICT problem is helped more quickly. The pupils aren’t obliged to help the ICT employee. Pupils sign up for it because they want to. ICT is their hobby. So many pupils want to help that active recruitment isn’t necessary.

What do the pupils think of it?

Pupil Lars started helping the ICT staff in his first year. He says: “My computer sciences teacher noticed that I enjoy ICT and thought it might be something for me. What I enjoy most is when I don’t immediately have a solution and then try to solve the issue by trying different things. If I don’t succeed, the ICT employee often knows what to do and then I learn something new.” In case of a mayor issue – such as a broken motherboard, for instance – Lars immediately refers the user to the ICT staff.

And, what about the ICT staff members?

According to the ICT employees the pupils deliver good work. “They take responsibility, they engage their talent, it looks good on their CVs and at the end of the year they’re rewarded with a certificate and a little present.” Pupils do need to mind that helping out with ICT isn’t at the expense of their other schoolwork and results. Their mentor or subject teacher will ask them whether it wouldn’t be wiser to spend their time working on another subject, should they feel this is necessary.

Never bored with it

The same goes for other schools, says the ICT employee: “Sit down with the pupils and let them solve any questions the teachers or other pupils might have. The children know a lot about it, often more than we do. And best of all: they enjoy helping out every time, they never get bored with it.”

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