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Support Your 1-1 Program with a Student Help Desk

A while back, I wrote about how our district handles damage for our 1-1 Chromebook program. In that post, I mentioned that we have a student-run help desk. Our Student Technology Assistant Team, or STAT Desk, has been instrumental in keeping our 1-1 program running smoothly, serving as a first point of contact to our student body for any and all issues related to their Chromebooks.

Our school has a 7 by 8 block schedule with one block dropping each day. To adequately staff the STAT Desk, we schedule two students per block. Students receive full credit for the class and have the option to take it as pass-fail or for a traditional letter grade. The beginning of the year is always hectic for two reasons. First, our new technicians are not up to speed on the procedures associated with the STAT Desk. Second, we typically get hit with an influx of Chromebook issues at the start of the school year as our students keep their Chromebooks over the summer – lots can happen during that 10-week span of time. We spend a lot of time at the beginning of the school year orienting our new STAT Desk technicians and helping offset the volume of repair needs.

The STAT Desk is situated in the library, a convenient, central location for students. The rendering at the top of this post shows the layout of the STAT desk. We have a service counter in the front with two computers for generating and tracking tickets, a work table on the left to work on repairs, and storage cabinets for parts, tools, etc… On the right side we have a computer cart that holds loaner Chromebooks that we issue to students if their Chromebook is being serviced. On top of the cart is the one high capacity printer to which all students can print. We use a service called PaperCut to set print quotas. On average, students print a couple dozen sheets of paper over the course of the year.

STAT Desk responsibilities include the following:

  • General troubleshooting help: Among other things, our STAT technicians answer questions about printing, troubleshooting extensions, and questions about hardware or software.
  • Repairs: We handle accidental damage repairs in-house whereas in-warranty repairs go back to the manufacturer. Common repairs include the replacement of LCD screens, batteries, keyboards, ribbon cables, and top/bottom covers. STAT technicians also perform resets of Chromebooks, a simple procedure that solves a surprising number of issues. Once up to speed, students can usually fix about 80 to 90 percent of all repair needs. The remaining 10 to 20 percent are escalated to a member of the technology department.
  • Ticketing: We use a ticketing system to track all repairs. Our technicians create tickets, assign the repairs to a technician, and close tickets upon completion of the repair. Our ticketing system is tied into Active Directory and students receive automatic updates as to the status of their repair.
  • Warranty claims: If Chromebook damage is not accidental, then we send devices back to the manufacturer for repair. It’s the responsibility of the STAT technicians to make that assessment and then deliver the Chromebook to our administrative assistant who contacts the company and manages the claim.
  • Issue loaners: We use a simple Google form to issue and track loaners. Any student that has a repair is issued a loaner while their Chromebook is being serviced. We also issue loaners to students that forget their Chromebooks at home although repeat offenders are referred to our dean of students.

In addition to the tasks listed above, our STAT technicians are reminded of the importance of excellent customer service and communication skills. We use Slack as our instant communication platform and students are expected to be proactive in asking for help and sharing knowledge with the rest of the team. In fact, these qualities are so important, they represent a significant portion of their grade each term.

Our STAT desk is a tremendous asset to our 1-1 Chromebook program. I cannot imagine how we could support 1000 devices as effectively and efficiently without it. Additionally, our students are developing their technical, communication, and customer service skills in a very authentic way.