Mr. Downs, Andover High School’s new Digital Learning Specialist, is here to assist teachers with integrating technology into their classes.
Mr. Downs used to work at Winchester High School for five years as a computer education teacher but now works at AHS, helping teachers incorporate technology into their lessons.
Downs says it is about “getting teachers to create more engaging classroom content using technology.”
Teachers have many options in incorporating technology into their classes, such as creating a blog for their students or conducting a video lecture so their students can watch the lecture from home. Mr. Downs can help teachers with this type of web-based technology.
Since there is so much new technology, Mr. Downs understands that some teachers are just starting out and are less experienced than others. Therefore, he tailors his suggestions towards the teacher and their level of use of technology.
“I try to suggest a lot of tools and get teachers to look at things they could use,” says Downs. He then goes on to say that he does “a lot of suggesting and letting them [teachers] try to visualize how they can use technology.”
Mr. Downs is not the only person who can assist teachers with their technological needs. This year a new Student Help Desk, located in the library, has been implemented where students can get class credit by helping teachers with their use of technology. The class is worth half a credit every other day for one semester. Students run the Student Help Desk and answer calls from teachers who need help. While Downs’ job “is really about integrating technology software into the curriculum,” students would help teachers on the spot.
Since there are few students in the class, there are not students at the help desk every block. Downs hopes this will soon change so that there will always be a student at the help desk.
Downs has hopes for the class and hopes to create a second Student Help Desk class for students who have already taken the class. “At first, you come first semester and learn how to do it [how to work the desk],” says Downs. When a student takes the course a second time, Downs says “they can work on their own independent projects.”
Projects can include learning more about game development or creating a mobile app. Downs says that students would have the chance to work on their own independent projects related to technology. However, this plan has not yet been implemented.
Downs also hopes that students will be able to intern at technology companies, whether they are start-up companies or already developed companies. “If you have a project idea, you want to talk to people who are already in the business,” says Downs. “It is all about making job connections.”
As of this year, the class does not yet have these opportunities and is only for one semester. However, there is always a chance that this will soon change.
If a teacher wants to get in contact with Mr. Downs, he is located in the school library or can be contacted at email@example.com.
By Lauren Wiener