Campus Technology Trend: Using Students as Tech Trainers

Written by Lindsay McGuire on March 12, 2020

Posted in Education, IT + Security

With the entrance of Gen Z onto college campuses, the need for technology is more necessary than ever. These students have been raised in the digital age, and they expect their higher education institution to provide the tools they need to succeed—both in school and out.

"Compared to previous generations, current high school students are more technologically savvy and have come to expect interactions with their potential college or university to resemble their interactions with platforms such as Twitter and Facebook: simple, relevant, fast, and personal.”  - Wayne John Brown, EDUCAUSE

Yet the need for technology goes far beyond simply supporting student recruitment. IT is embedded in every aspect of campus workings, from scheduling courses and administering tests to paying faculty and managing events.

But the funds to support campus technology are lacking.

According to The Campus Computing Project, general campus IT funding has still not recovered from the budget cuts that began in 2008 due to the Great Recession. Oftentimes, these budget cuts lead campus IT teams to consolidate or restructure.

Does this sound like your campus IT department? With limited budgets, small teams, and the need to adopt a variety of new and ever-changing technology, it can be difficult to implement new technology across campus. Yet there’s a way to work around these barriers: students.

Why use students as tech trainers?

It may seem strange to use students as technology trainers across your campus. Isn’t that what IT is for?

We’re not suggesting that students fully manage the implementation and training of all technology. That would be a bit much. But what we are suggesting is using the capabilities of your own students to improve the adoption, understanding, and usage of technology across your school.

Here are a few reasons why using students for tech training is a smart decision for your school.

Set students up for success.
Students are eager to learn and want to add to their resume. Creating a technology training program with students as the teachers can offer them a great opportunity that can set them up for future success.

Many students studying IT or computer engineering would love to say they help lead technology training at their college. Offering students the opportunity to be part of a campus technology training group would make them more competitive in the job market and better prepare them for a career in IT or education later in life.

Adjust to budget restraints.
Consider how many TAs you have at your school. Think about the time, money, and resources those TAs save your university.

The same can happen when you use students to help improve the adoption of new technology on campus. With extremely tight IT budgets, saving money is crucial to ensuring your campus can invest in the right technology for your school. Whether you hire students for this role or have it combined into curriculum, the cost savings can be great.

Implement technology faster.
Your IT team can only handle so many projects within so much time. By supplementing the department with student trainers, your campus can implement new projects much faster.

Think about what your IT department could accomplish if they could double in size. This is possible if you add students into the mix. They can extend the manpower of your IT team and release workers from tasks that take up their crucial time. Students gain experience, and the IT team gains time—it’s a win-win!

Four creative ways to do tech training on campus.

Putting the idea of student tech trainers into practice might seem a bit overwhelming, especially if you’re part of a large campus. It’s important to craft a program that addresses the needs of your students, faculty, and system.

It’s always helpful to have inspiration when considering launching a new project or program. To help give you an idea of how to put student tech trainers into action, here are four creative and real-life ways Formstack customers are providing tech training across their campuses.

Note: Some of these programs may be led by faculty or the IT department, but all could be reproduced using the help of students.

Host in-person training events.
Sometimes it’s just easiest to learn a new product, program, or system face-to-face with a helpful instructor. Illinois State University does just this by providing in-person Formstack trainings.

One interesting fact about their in-person events is that it is a prerequisite for using Formstack. This can be a helpful way to ensure anyone who needs to use a new tool is properly trained and educated before diving into the product.

Include it as part of class curriculum.
Give your IT and computer science students a leg-up by including technical training as part of the class curriculum. You may even consider extending this program into education majors as well. Once the curriculum is in place, you’ll be able to train students quickly and easily, then have them available to train other students.

Did you know? Formstack offers a completely free certification program! If your school is a Formstack customer, students can easily access this training. Learn more about the Formstack certification training now.

Create online training modules.
Many software companies offer free certifications and training webinars, but you may find that your campus needs very specific trainings to address your particular problems and processes.

If this is the case, you may want to create online training modules for the products and processes your campus uses. A great example of this process comes from Miami University. They’ve created an entire page filled with online tech training modules. This is a project that can easily involve students in the planning, launch, and upkeep.

adopt new technology

Launch a product hub with all the necessary information.
Change can be hard, but if you communicate early and often, it makes it much easier. One way you can get students involved in implementing new tech on your campus is through creating product hubs, like this Formstack hub on Azusa Pacific University’s website. It’s a way to provide people with information on what a product is, what it does, and why it is helpful to them.

tech training

This would be a great area for students interested in technology and communications to work in. Consider pairing student interns with IT staff to develop these types of product hubs. It’s an easy way to quickly communicate across campus to students, staff, and faculty about new products, processes, and technology.

Students can benefit greatly by being involved in tech training on your university’s campus. Partnering IT with students can help ensure your organization can adapt to new technology quickly and efficiently.

Do you want to help your campus become more productive by introducing new tools, tech, and processes? Listen to Formstack’s Ripple Effect podcast episode Empowering Tomorrow’s Difference Makers now to hear how Kow Samman of Azusa Pacific University implements big changes at his university.