ASTEC - Empowering students through transformative practice

Amaroo School's ASTEC (Amaroo School Technical Experience Crew) program is an amazing example of how motivated and empowered students can help to bring about change and make a difference in the school at the same time.

Who are the ASTECs?

The ASTECs are a group of year 9 and 10 students at Amaroo School (a few of whom are featured in our recent Digital Schools video). With the support of a couple of key teachers, the students have planned and developed the ASTEC concept over time, and now provide tech support and advice for teachers, students and parents in the school.
This comes in various forms. Students and teachers can request support through a simple support form, or they can attend 'drop-in' sessions in the school's Inspire Centre. The ASTECs also run regular 'Techy Brekki' sessions; where students, parents and teachers can attend and get advice, tips and support on a range of ICT matters. This program is now so successful that it is now a fully-fledged subject linked to the Australian Curriculum. Students enrolled in the ASTEC program are even working towards Google Certified accreditation, something that not many teachers are able to do.

The ASTECs are an integral part of the ICT support system at Amaroo School. Staff talk about an an incident early this year where 200 newly purchased Chromebooks were just 'not working'. Through the collaborative efforts of the ASTECs, they solved the problem and got all of the Chromebooks up and running again.

But it's not only the teachers, students and parents that benefit from the program. The ASTECs are learning a range of real-world skills like problem solving, collaboration and organisation. They're also developing ICT skills that may give them the edge over their peers professionally; earning industry-level experience as well as 'extra credit' in their academic transcripts.

How did the ASTEC program start?

In 2014, students at Amaroo School were unhappy about how the technology was working for them. They decided to take action. As a part of a statistics assignment, they measured, recorded and analysed average log-in times across the school, and then presented their findings to the ACT Education Directorate. This in turn contributed to the consultation process around new technology directions, with improvements around WiFi, computers and online platforms. Including a student perspective has contributed to the success of these changes, and Amaroo School now has ICT infrastructure and services that are among the best in education.

This meant that the students could focus their attention on more positive uses of technology. With the support and guidance of their teachers, they developed the ASTEC model using a Design Thinking approach. This gave them the opportunity to understand all aspects of the problem and come up with a creative solution. This is continuing to evolve, into the EduHack concept outlined in this blog.
Offering students real-world experience empowers them and opens up a whole new world of learning. We’ve heard that other schools are developing these kinds of opportunities for their students, and the best thing is, when students are also providing support everyone benefits!

The ASTEC story was recently featured in an issue of AITSL's Learning Frontiers Insights and Ideas Journal. If you would like to know more, please contact Ian Thomson or Andrew Beecher at Amaroo School.