Classroom Technology

In Indiana, Tech Training for Teachers ‘Flipped,’ With a Twist

By Benjamin Herold — June 26, 2013 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

San Antonio

When it comes to using the new iPads at Cathedral High in Indianapolis, “the adults definitely need a lot more help than the kids,” says 16-year old sophomore Jimmy Kacius.

“They were so used to using a Windows computer that figuring out how to use a touch screen and how to do different gestures on your iPad was a very big change for them,” said Kacius. “Students tend to be a little more tech-savvy.”

Hence the creation of iSquad.

ISquad is a team of 25 students that provides on-the-spot tech support to teachers and students at their school. They also run a help desk at Cathedral, the oldest and largest private Catholic school in Indiana. And Kacius, a slight boy with the helpful, knowledgeable manner of a veteran Genius Bar worker, leads iSquad’s video production wing, overseeing the creation of a library of online tutorials on everything from how students should back up their class notes to how teachers can print directly from their iPads.

“It’s actually quite simple, once you know how to set up everything,” he said.

Along with Cathedral chief information officer Raul Landeros, Kacius presented the iSquad model on Tuesday to a steady stream of interested educators on the showcase floor at the 2013 ISTE conference.

Landeros said the idea is to take the concept of the “flipped classroom” and give it a new twist.

With easy access to the video library, “Teachers don’t have to go down to a professional development lab at a specified time,” he said. “They can learn these technology lessons on their own time, and it’s the students in the classroom that are teaching the teachers. “

But the key to making iSquad work, Landeros said, is that the tech support team isn’t primarily about technology.

“The students are already talented with tech,” he said. “We help them to become better listeners and communicators. We help them to become more service-oriented. We help them become leaders.”

At its best, said Landeros, the result is a deepening and strengthening of the student-teacher relationships at the school by giving grateful teachers a safe, comfortable way to learn things that aren’t comfortable for them.

He cited as an example the Cathedral English Department’s early attempt to use Pages, a word-processing app for mobile devices. Teachers were frustrated because they couldn’t figure out how to create documents in MLA format.

“So we went to the iSquad and said, ‘How can we make this work?’” said Landeros."They made a video, showed it the English department, and within two days, all the English teachers started showing the students how to use the app.”

Of course, it helps being a private school that charges $12,300 a year in tuition.

Cathedral has technology resources that many schools can only dream about. The school has impressive bandwidth; next month, the school will upgrade from a 100mb fiberoptic connection to a 1 gigabyte connection.

When Cathedral decided to undertake its own 1:1 device initiative, school officials didn’t think twice about requiring students’ families to buy their own iPads on top of that tuition bill.

And most of the students, including Kacius, enter the school already quite familiar with the latest digital devices.

“My dad is really into technology,” he said. “I already had a smartphone and a laptop.”

But Landeros said it’s the development of Kacius’ social and leadership skills, not his growing knowledge of technology, that has been most impressive.

At first, said Landeros, “he was very quiet. He would never respond to something unless directly asked.”

But when students’ enthusiasm for the iSquad initiative began to flag mid-year, Kacius sprang into surprising action.

“He started sending out announcements via Facebook and Twitter saying, ‘I’m going to be here after school to show you how to make videos,’” said Landeros. “He was really trying to galvanize the team, because he didn’t want it to go away.”

Now, Kacius says he’s already looking forward to expanding iSquad next year.

It’s not just that it’s fun to play with the expensive video and HDMI capture equipment, he explained.

“It feels really good to say, ‘I made this, this is my work, and people are actually benefiting from it.’”

Follow @BenjaminBHerold and @EdTechEdWeek for live updates from ISTE 2013.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.

Commenting has been disabled on effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Classroom Technology The Future of Blended Learning: What Educators Need to Know
More than two-thirds of educators expect their use of blended learning to increase during the 2021-22 school year.
8 min read
onsr edtech blended
Classroom Technology Why School Districts Are Unprepared for COVID-19 Disruptions, Again
Bad state policy, misplaced optimism, and a focus on full-time virtual schools left districts scrambling to educate quarantined students.
11 min read
onsr edtech hybrid
Classroom Technology Opinion Some Teachers Are New to Laptop Integration. Here’s How to Manage It
Let students help set expectations and make sure both you and they know how to use the tools are just a couple suggestions educators offer.
15 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
Classroom Technology Opinion 20 Suggestions About Teaching in a Class Where All Students Have Laptops
One tip from experienced teachers: Working in a one-to-one classroom is more about a shift in teaching and learning than the use of devices.
11 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."