Hands-on learning: Milaca man teaches Braham students to repair school-issued devices

Photo provided
Student Brady Stickles working on a tablet.

Who would trust a seventh grader to take a screwdriver to their iPad?
Milaca native Dustin Hoeper is giving students in the Braham school district the opportunity to do just that with their own school-issued Chromebooks.
In fall 2014 Braham School District instituted a one-to-one technology policy for sixth and seventh grade students, meaning each student got a tablet with which to complete their school work.
Such initiatives are becoming more and more popular with school districts trying to rise to the educational challenges presented by 21st Century technologies. Both Milaca and Princeton’s school districts issue technology to portions of their student body for curricular use as well. Princeton has also involved students in maintenance of its fleet of devices.
School-issued computers grant uniform access to tools students need proficiency with in order to thrive in today’s always-connected environment, according to Hoeper, who works as the Braham district’s technology coordinator.
“This new device allowed them to access online curriculum, perform internet research, create presentations and write reports (just for starters), all from the convenience of their own desks,” Hoeper said.
Students are free to take their tablets home, too.
The one-to-one initiative expanded in the 2015 school year, with Chromebooks issued to all students in fifth through 12th grades. Noticing that some students took keen interest in the intricacies of his work when their Chromebooks needed repairs, Hoeper began showing them the ropes of technology repairs.
“As students started showing an interest in repairs, the screwdriver was passed and parts were explained which led to students actually doing their own repairs for themselves and other students,” Hoeper said. “They’ve been able to replace broken screens, hinges and batteries, as well as swapping complete motherboards to make the machine fully functional once again.”
To encourage students’ technological learning, a technology peer tutor hour offering was created for juniors and seniors. These students help keep the technology of the district operating, easing Hoeper’s heavy workload as technology coordinator and engaging in some hands-on learning in the process.
“In addition to Chromebook repairs, students have also helped upgrade RAM, install software, move and re-image desktop computers,” Hoeper said. “They have also repaired projectors, replacing bulbs, assisting in the set-up of presentations, and have even done some network cabling.”
Students also sometimes bring in their home computers to learn how they could be repaired or optimized.
For Hoeper, helping educate students to have control of their technology was a natural outgrowth of his job, once they made clear they were curious.
“It’s just kind of, okay, if you’re interested, let’s take it step-by-step here and see how it goes,” Hoeper said.


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