I originally introduced Digital Leaders in Kings Monkton Primary School in 2012 and we haven’t looked back. They help and support other teachers and children with IT/technology in so many different ways. They are children who range from Year 2 – Year 6 and meet on Monday lunchtimes in the primary computer suite, although you may well see them in this room throughout most lunchtimes.
I first saw Digital Leaders in action at a Teachmeet in Clevedon where @ICTEvangelist, Mark Anderson had them working and helping in the evening as well as presenting. I thought it was a brilliant idea and wondered if you could do this with Primary children.
At Bett, I then heard @SheliBB, Sheli Blackburn talk with enthusiasm and about her Digital Leaders in a Primary school and it became a goal for me to do the same. I found out more through Twitter and the Digital Leader Network, which gave ideas, tips and advice.
In order to be chosen initially, the children needed to apply and show why they think they would be a good Digital Leader in a presentation of their choice. They could make a video, use Powerpoint, Minecraft, Scratch, Google presentations or do something else they feel would be innovative!
Now, the Digital Leaders themselves help choose each new intake and we have a great mix of children with different interests. This knowledge is then shared amongst the other digital leaders with the children training each other and becoming supportive experts to all. An applicant who shows potential and enthusiasm but isn’t yet up to the standard required can become an e-cadet and and can come along to meetings and is encouraged to learn more.
Setting up Digital Leaders is easy and costs nothing! There is a Digital Leader chat on Twitter #dlchat, check out @shelliBB @gr8ict @clcsimon @chrismayoh to start and you will find enthusiasm and help for setting up your own Digital Leaders in both primary and secondary schools. There is also the brilliant Digital Leader Network site to join online, where you find help in getting started by providing ideas, application forms and advice.
The Digital Leaders have several roles,
DL Exploration – testing out new technologies that we could use in school. Our digital leaders have worked with coding and tested out apps for the iPad as well as websites such as Scratch. They have used Purple Mash’s To Code, Scratch, html and Python. They frequently give the class teachers welcome help as the rest of the class begin coding. They are currently exploring MinecraftEdu and thinking about ways to bring this into the classroom and link with other learning.
DL Training and Support – helping to train and support other children and adults in school. As well as coding help for classmates and staff, the Digital Leaders hold an Improvers Club on Tuesday lunch times and a Purple Mash Club on Fridays. The Improvers Club is where the digital leaders help any child who feels they are struggling or unsure of an area of IT. It is often something they have been doing in class but occasionally is something they have heard about and want to know more. The Purple Mash Club is where the younger digital Leaders are helped by the older ones to become very familiar with Purple Mash. In order to prove their knowledge and improvement, Purple Mash sets the Digital Leaders some challenges and they will get a badge upon completion.
DL Journalism – create and maintain a DL blog about the work you do or review the new technologies you encounter. The Digital Leaders also make comments on the 5 sentence Challenge,where the younger writers complete sentences about a prompt every fortnight. This really helps their own self and peer assessment as they have to think carefully about what they need to say to our youngest writers. They have rules to follow so that encouragement is paramount and advice is given tactfully!
The Digital Leaders are part of the Makewav.es Digital Leaders where they can earn badges for a number for different activities; esafety, reviewing books, films and apps, reporting and interviewing. This keeps them busy learning and improving and is all free to join!
The school also has a Digital Leader Blog where we showcase activities undertaken by the Digital Leaders, such as taking a class and introducing them to SketchUp, producing their own e safety assembly, showing a group how to use Teach Your Monster to Read or going in with a class and helping them log in for the first time!
There is still much to develop and learn and each year I am getting more applications to join. The children constantly amaze me with their dedication, interest, knowledge and patience with other children (as well as staff!).
If you have thought about setting up a Digital Leader scheme but haven’t got round to it yet, do it! You won’t regret it.