Digital Ambassadors – 4. Building the programme

Post 4 of 7

Once a review of policy documents and curriculum has been conducted, as well as interviews and surveys, it becomes pretty clear what a school needs the most, when, and in what format. At this stage, it is possible to put together a coherent Digital Ambassadors programme. In this post, I share the programme that I have put together.


Digital Ambassadors as ‘Digital Buddies’

Working at an international school, the turnover of students is naturally relatively high, and numerous students join during the academic year. New students need to go through a similar ‘Tech induction’ that all students go through at the beginning of each school year. Unfortunately students joining during the academic year do not have the luxury of being taken off timetable, and need to learn new skills in their own time.

To ensure new students are productive as quickly as possible, I assign a Digital Ambassador to each new student as a ‘Digital Buddy’. Here is a summary of the process I follow:

  1. Two weeks prior to student joining the school, I get an automated email warning me of the new arrival (so does the IT team)
  2. Review the file (e.g. age, gender, can the student speak English, if not, do I have a Digital Ambassadors who can speak the new student’s mother tongue, etc.)
  3. Assign a Digital Ambassador as Digital Buddy based on the points above. Being sensitive to what is acceptable with different cultures is very important.
  4. Check with Digital Ambassador their availability on the day of new student’s arrival
  5. IT team prepares laptop, accessories and all accounts to be ready for pickup on day of arrival
  6. Time of pickup is arranged with IT team, new student’s mentor and Digital Ambassador (I am not there when the students meet for the first time)
  7. Digital Ambassador meets with new student, hands in laptop and starts training
  8. The first training session lasts for 30 minutes
  9. Digital Ambassador decides if further sessions are needed, and lets me know if/when those will happen

From experience, it is much better if the whole process if handled by the Digital Ambassadors on their own, as it is less intimidating for the new student. I never actually get to meet the new students (unless I teach them, of course).

Here are the skills covered in the first introductory session:

  • Laptop basic maintenance and care
  • Basics of using a Mac laptop
  • Setting up Mail programme
  • Sending and receiving emails
  • Using Managebac to check for homework and tasks

In subsequent sessions, Digital Ambassadors may cover the following skills:

  • Using Managebac calendar to create homework events
  • Creating events & reminders using Calendar
  • Subscribing to Managebac calendar on the Mac calendar app
  • Creating a wallpaper with timetable
  • Creating & managing bookmarks in favourite Web browser
  • Using Smart searches in Finder
  • Managing login items


Digital Ambassadors manning the ‘Genius Bar’

Part of my job is to be a ‘bookable resource’ for secondary school teachers. My desk (the Genius Bar) is located in the secondary school library, a central location, where teachers can make appointments with me to brush up existing skills, or to learn new tech skills. The Genius Bar is also open for students and parents to use.

Unfortunately, I cannot man the Genius Bar all of the time, and definitely not during break times and lunch times. My Digital Ambassadors commit to man the Genius Bar at specific times, for the duration of the academic year. This helps ensure the Genius Bar is manned as much as possible.

The Genius Bar is key to a quality just-in-time professional growth programme, and ensuring it is manned as much as possible makes it a reliable tool for the whole community.

Here is a list of tasks that students may perform whilst looking after the Genius Bar:

  • Take and record important calls. Write messages in log.
  • Help students, parents and teachers who need it
  • Develop written tutorials if it’s a slow day


Digital Ambassadors teaching teachers

From surveys and interviews, it becomes very clear what skills teachers lack as a group, or wish a refresher for. At my current school, the main needs were:

  • Promethean boards
  • Basic usage of Pages, Keynote and Numbers
  • Google Apps for Education
  • Productivity tips using a Mac laptop
  • Keyboard shortcuts
  • Managebac

I decided to ask Digital Ambassadors to plan, prepare and deliver sessions to groups of teachers, based on the list of skills mentioned above.

Digital Ambassadors must submit a lesson plan before before presenting in front of a crowd of teachers, and some like to do a test-run with me prior to running the actual session. Here is a sample lesson plan. Please feel free to modify it and use it (the logo is copyright-protected).

Lesson Plan Template

Lesson Plan Template

Usually a handful of teachers turn up for lunch time sessions, which we tend to be satisfied with. The feedback from those sessions has always been extremely positive.

Digital Ambassadors also usually run sessions during special Professional Development days, and some even decided to present at the 2015 ECIS Technology Conference – in front of nearly 40 educators. The feedback from those sessions has been the best I have ever seen.


Digital Ambassadors creating video tutorials

Using the data from surveys and interviews, as well as policy and curriculum documents, it is easy to create a list of skills that students and teachers need to master. Once that list is finalised, Digital Ambassadors are able to start creating video tutorials for each skill.

Digital Ambassadors need to use a pre-recording checklist to ensure optimal conditions for recording. Please click on the image to download the PDF file.

Pre-recording checklist

Pre-recording checklist

After the recording has been completed, another Digital Ambassador reviews the recorded video and must fill in a recording checklist, to ensure standards are met, as per below.

Recording review checklist

Recording review checklist

Once a student is happy with his/her work, I give it a final look before uploading it to our school Youtube channel. Unfortunately, due to privacy reasons, I cannot share examples here.


Digital Ambassadors creating written tutorials

Using the same list as the one mentioned above, Digital Ambassadors create written tutorials, which can be either consulted online, or in PDF format. This has been especially useful for teachers, who sometimes cannot watch videos.

We have been using Dozuki‘s free tier, and we have been very happy customers. The tool has a few quirks, but it creates beautiful and very professional looking guides.

If you are interested, you can see the guides that Digital Ambassadors and myself have created at


Digital Ambassadors getting technical

Some Digital Ambassadors are more technically minded than others, and they have been taking part in the following projects:

  • Setting up of a Moodle server
  • Creation of a basic Moodle plugin
  • Programming Extra-Curricular Activity
  • Arduino projects
  • Etc.

In the future, I would like to see a couple of students working more closely together with the IT team.


In the next post, I discuss ways to start the programme and ensure maximum student signup.


Photo credit: Dos piezas by Raúl Hernández González under CC-BY-SA

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read previous post:
Digital Ambassadors – 3. Gauging existing expertise

Post 3 of 7 Every school has experts in multiple areas, and technology is no exception. For every expert there will be...