BYOD: Opportunity & Accessibility

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Device, Rationale, Outcomes for Success:

To really achieve an authentic learning environment that encourages students to critically think, problem solve, communicate, and collaborate, we as educators must provide them with learning opportunities that go beyond the traditional modes of writing and reading. Moving away from the traditional pencil, paper, Scantron, and essay format to something that allows students to invent, create, develop, and publish is necessary if we hope to instill in our learners skills for growth and success in the 21st Century.

Pursuing BYOD in the classroom would provide a valuable opportunity to engage students in learning that asks them to be creators and curators of the world around them. Because the focus is on technology as a vehicle for learning and not on the device itself, students will be able to understand more readily that the device is secondary to their objectives for using it.

Similar to the success with IPads and Androids in the classroom, BYOD would enable students to develop proper study habits on applications (apps) such as StudyBlue and Quizlet; teachers would be able to manage their classroom delivery and student behaviors more effectively with apps such as ClassDojo and Socrative.

English Language Learners can become more involved in the classroom with specific Applications for ELL that enable them to benefit from their regular education classes while still managing the language they are learning.

Reluctant learners or those students with learning disabilities would have access to apps which make learning more manageable, “’ The technology can compensate for the special-needs kids in a way that traditional media cannot compensate,’ says Elliot M. Soloway, a University of Michigan professor of education as well as of electrical engineering and computer science” (Shah, 2011).

All students, regardless of their ability level or socioeconomic background, would benefit from the endorsement to use their own device in the classroom and would feel more comfortable with their use of technology for learning since they already know how to use their device. Students will engage with more problem-solving if teachers provide them with opportunities to use different apps or programs that are compatible with different devices; the idea that there is not a one-sized-fits-all approach to learning will be reinforced as students’ opportunity for growth and digital literacy is reconfirmed through the use of BYOD. The goal of any strong instructional technology program is not to make students reliant on a device, but to encourage them to focus on the goals of the assignment or learning opportunity and to try on different devices to best meet these goals.

Implementation Plan & Possible Problems:

Of course with any new initiative, care must be taken to ensure that students, parents, teachers, and educational stakeholders understand the goals of the initiative and the plan for implementation.

Demographics: This plan is for Hershey High School in suburban Hershey, PA. Currently there are 1,200 students enrolled in grades 9-12. Our socioeconomic status is relatively middle to upper middle class. The large majority of students have access to the internet as well as a wide variety of devices, not limited to laptops, Macbooks, IPads, Androids, IPhones, and other devices. Our community is one that supports increased access to resources and a clear focus on educational technology. Parental involvement is frequent and unforced. For these reasons, BYOD would be best suited to our high school and would enable students and families to use the technology with which they are already accustomed and most likely to use out of or after their time in school.

For parents & students:

Information will be mailed home several weeks before school starts outlining the district’s rationale for moving to BYOD focused on the learning outcomes of this decision as well as the financial responsibility to the community. Suggestions will be generated by the school’s IT specialists and a list of suggested resources for each grade level will be provided. Parents will be informed of the best devices out their for learning and will be able to secure one of these specific devices prior to school starting. For families that cannot afford to purchase their own device, each school will have a cache of devices available for use via the library. Students may check out the device to use for their class projects and return them when they are done, free of charge. More specific guidelines for BYOD will be provided in these mailings by the district administration team.

Additionally, during the opening week of school, an information session will be provided for families and hosted by district administration and our IT specialists to ensure that devices are compatible with the district network and are suitable for learning.

For teachers:

During the before school in-service, information will be provided for teachers about the expectations for BYOD in the classroom and how to establish effective classroom management for students when they are not using their device. Ideas such as having students place the device face down on their desk when not in use or allowing them to charge devices during free periods will be discussed. The IT specialists will provide background into the types of devices that teachers may come in contact with and troubleshoot any preliminary problems that teachers are anticipating. The initiative will be revisited during each month’s faculty meeting to solve any problems that may have developed.

Since teachers will most likely be familiar with the types of devices that students are brining in, few professional development opportunities will be required. However, as the initiative rolls out, teachers will have the opportunity to request specific training sessions on specific devices or with specific apps.

Problems:

As with any new technology initiative there will be some growing pains, however, by making all members of the learning community aware of this initiative and the support in place to ensure a fluid transition to BYOD hopefully these problems will be alleviated.

Problems anticipated are that not all students have access to these devices, students may lose their devices or have their devices stolen, or students may all bring a different device, causing issues for collaboration or pace of learning. Access to devices for learning will be supported through the library and instructional technology specialists and teacher leaders will be made available to support these needs in the classroom.

For more information about incorporating BYOD in the classroom, please review the following:

BYOD for Learning Blog

Edutopia: 20 Awesome BYOD Apps for Learning

Mindshift: How BYOD Programs can Fuel Inquiry Learning

Has your district moved to a BYOD approach to technology? What suggestions do you have for guidelines for a successful BYOD implementation or how to make the transition to a BYOD approach more seamless and effective?

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7 responses »

  1. I love BYOD because of the fact that the students already should know how to use it. However, I question whether or not they know how to use it to create. I can’t remember, does your district currently have BYOD, and is it for all grade levels? I’m glad that inservice will be provided for teachers. I would hope that it would include not only tech/apps training, but also information about the 21st century skills we are learning about in our classes. Many of the teachers in my school do not have that mindset and teach traditionally.

  2. Thank you for your comment, Deb–my school does currently have BYOD for grades 9-12 (roughly 1200 students) and there have been minimal issues. Students are able to use their devices for studying, learning games, and for video recording or using apps to create new digital presentations that I have been truly impressed with (much more creative and professional than the standard power points that many of us teachers use). So for this, I am happy with BYOD as it provides students the opportunity to customize their learning and for teachers to engage more with skills and learning opportunities that might engage more learners and provide more authentic project-based assignments to incorporate skills not covered in the traditional classroom that is not infused with technology.

  3. I think that the advantages of having the BYOD program it permits the kids to know how to use their equipment. The drawback is if the teachers attempt to troubleshoot and they are not familiar with that technology. I have this policy in my school and I love it for my classes. I was one of the pilot teachers implementing it last year. I really didn’t have any issues with theft. Most of the kids who were concerned about that left their devices in their locker or their bookbags. I found the kids worked harder and longer on their work because they could take it with them. The quality of the work went up.

    • John, thanks for your feedback. I have had similar experiences with BYOD and noted too that students were more willing to work harder and longer, producing better work, if they had ownership of the device that they were working on.

    • John and Erin,
      Both of you present good reasons to support BYOD: It allows students to practice using the tech. It improves work quality. It provides opportunities for students and teachers to collaborate at home. Plus more.
      John, what is the policy that you mentioned?

  4. Erin,
    Great proposal! I really support the idea of BYOD! I am excited that my district will begin a BYOD initiative this school year at our high school, and I can’t wait to see how it will evolve and enhance my classroom. I like what you said about the device being “secondary to their objectives for using it.” It is so true that we need to be teaching skills such as problem-solving, collaboration, and creativity – which have nothing to do with the specific technological device used.

    You mentioned that “all students, regardless of their ability level or socioeconomic background, would benefit from the endorsement to use their own device in the classroom.” One question I have for you is, how would you deal with the issue of those individuals who may not own a device to bring in? What if the library devices are all signed out, broken, or otherwise unavailable? Or, what if the student borrows a device from the library but has no idea how to use it? I will be curious to see how my school’s policy tackles this same problem!
    ~Alison

    • Hi, Alison, thank you for your feedback. Fortunately, I have had limited challenges with using BYOD in term so of students not coming to class with their own device. Our library always seemed to have a device available. As far as the students not knowing how to use the device, I find that the students are much more adept at using a new device than I.

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