Thursday, November 8, 2012

'Geek Squad' — The Next Generation Growing Up at iMiddle

Fixing computers at iMiddle.
Troubleshooting a desktop computer.
If a student's netbook has a problem at Innovation Middle School in Clairemont, chances are she won't be taking to an adult for repair; her customer service representative and -- in many cases -- the person who repairs the machine, will be a fellow seventh or eighth grader.

At the trend-setting north Clairemont campus, each student receives a netbook computer to use in all their classes and take home. But when things go wrong, they go to another class, the Technical Support Services class, for help. Students organize and operate a customer service center for computer users who are experiencing problems. The classroom was set up with a check-in booth to document the customer concerns and tech support squad, similar to that of the Geek Squad at Best Buy stores, which verifies and diagnoses the problems.

"The curriculum goes far beyond repairs to include internet ethics, customer service and the implications of new technology," said Principal Harlan Klein. If a student experiences any software or hardware problems with the netbook computers, the student can bring it to school and drop it off to be worked on by the Intro to Technical Support Services students on campus.

Teacher Frank Carmody's curriculum includes an overview of jobs in the tech industry, video lessons about printer interfaces and other computer systems. Students are learning teamwork, problem solving and critical thinking skills by operating their repair facility. Carmody is also the school's robotics program advisor and students are encouraged to work on this extra-credit program.

Innovation Middle School is part of the Federal Communications Commission-sponsored Learning On the Go (LOGO) program, part of San Diego Unified's i21 Interactive Classroom initiative. The program supplies middle school students at iMiddle and nine other schools with netbooks and iPads at home and school. The computers are equipped with wireless access cards, allowing students to access the internet from virtually anywhere.

For more information, please contact Greg Quirin, CCTE Program Specialist, at