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Last Updated: Friday, 5 October 2007, 12:22 GMT 13:22 UK
Students teaching the teachers
eMentors at work
The eMentors are available to both staff and students
A college is harnessing the power of students' technical knowledge to teach their lecturers a thing or two about information technology.

The college has appointed 35 "eMentors" to help staff with everything from laptops to interactive whiteboards.

The scheme works on the premise that students are more technically adept.

The aim is to enable staff and students at Oaklands College in Hertfordshire to make the best use of its 400,000 investment in new technology.

The scheme has helped lecturers overcome their insecurities towards information and communication technology (ICT) while empowering and engaging students.
'eMentoring' works on the principle that the person in the household who knows how to use the DVD player is more often than not, the child
Richard Everett, Oaklands eLearning director

Oaklands director of eLearning and mastermind of the scheme, Richard Everett, said: "Oaklands' eMentoring works on the principle that the person in the household who knows how to use the DVD player is, more often than not, the child. And the same is true with ICT.

"Because young people have the attitude that takes technology for granted, they see it as just another tool and are not frightened of finding out how to use it when they do not know - they just try."

The mentors are on hand during classes to assist teachers with any issues which may arise with the introduction of a brand new ICT system, including wireless networking, electronic white boards and ICT projection facilities.

They will also be trained to pass on their technical knowledge.

Award nomination

James Belmont is an "eMentor" and currently studying for a foundation degree in ICT and multimedia at Oaklands, which offers a range of courses including GCSEs, A-levels, degrees and vocational courses.

The 19-year-old, who finds his role very rewarding, said: "I have found that most lecturers are relieved my assistance is at hand as it means any problems can be resolved quickly and they can get back to teaching.

"Students are also happy about the arrangement as they know they can approach me with a problem and get back to their studies once it has been resolved."

Alison Shiel, curriculum project officer and a lecturer in business at the college, said: "James supported me as an eMentor in the foundation degree in business I teach.

"He helped me get to grips with using electronic registers quickly and other new IT equipment.

"The scheme is excellent for peer learning and for engaging students and I feel that eMentors have proved themselves to be an invaluable and indispensable resource."

Oaklands' scheme has been nominated for an eGovernment award and the college expects to hear if it has been successful in October.

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