TECHNOLOGY glitches are usually nothing more than a painful annoyance for teachers and students, but an inventive program at Taroona High School in Tasmania is helping to turn technical problems into opportunities for student growth and leadership. The 'technology helpdesk' initiative sees students from Year 9 and 10 volunteer to be available to assist younger students who might be experiencing difficulty with their technological devices. The students take it in shifts during their IT classes and at lunchtime to act as the school's own IT technicians. IT teacher Mark Morffew, who coordinates the helpdesk, says it's all about giving students the chance to develop real-world problem solving skills which they can use later in life. "The students learn client skills, how to deal with people and problems ... they're dealing with scheduling and planning, and a whole range of useful real-world skills which will benefit them a lot." The element of learning together is also a crucial part of the helpdesk's success. "The students are able to learn from each other and to teach other students. So they're not just fixing the problem but showing [the younger students] how to solve it". Morffew says this student-to-student approach is the most beneficial in terms of students being able to develop the confidence to work through IT problems on their own and believes the process of resolving problems together, without help from staff, instils a great sense of self-belief in his students. "This confidence they can take into the classroom. They begin to think 'these problems are not outside my realm of ability to fix'." So what sorts of IT problems does the helpdesk deal with? "For the vast majority it's about connecting devices to the network ... putting on or removing software, diagnosing what might be slowing a computer down, anti-virus things ... making sure they have the right software for classes," explains Morffew. "Ninety per cent of problems they can deal with because it doesn't require special admin access or fixing a hardware problem". Testament to the initiative's success, Morffew has plans of extending the helpdesk idea by creating 'sub-helpdesks' within each classroom, whereby select students could be identified as an IT leader and act as a first port of call for any problems.