I am hearing more and more from friends in Gwinnett County about their schools using Bring Your Own Device to class, and I want to know more about how the kids are actually using the technology. (Here is a PDF about Gwinnett’s BYOD program.)
Devices are outlawed at our middle school and I assume the elementary school too. My 12-year-old knows she can listen to her iPod before school but not during school. They aren’t even supposed to take it out of their backpacks.
I absolutely think that technology has a place in the classroom and can benefit the students greatly. At the university level, my students brought in iPads, iPhones, laptops – whatever they wanted to use to take notes, to explore and to learn.
I was helping in my daughter’s first-grade class two weeks ago and the assignment was for the kids to write about where they would want to visit in the world. I started talking to one of the little girls and she just didn’t have enough knowledge about continents or countries to come up with anything. So I said well what about a safari in Africa, what would you see? So I pulled out my smartphone and started searching for images of safari. The little girl loved the photos of the animals and the savannah and that spurred her imagination. From the photos we jumped to well what would you hear, what would you smell, what would you feel on safari?
The teacher noticed what I did and brought me over a laptop so we could have a bigger screen to search on. I repeated the process for the next center group, and I think showing them the images made a huge difference on their writing product.
I had been in her classroom earlier in the week giving a presentation on the continents. The teacher opened two tabs for me on the smartboard and I clicked between a Prezi presentation about the continents and Google Earth. The kids just loved it.
Here is an article from about a month ago on my FAVORITE techno-education blog called Mind/Shift about how Forsyth County is using BYOD:
“Instead of this just being a technology initiative, it really is an instructional initiative, so all of us from different departments can get on the same page,” said Tim Clark, coordinator of instructional technology for Forsyth County Schools in Georgia.”
“Forsyth started out by creating a learner profile, a set of criteria the school district wanted students to learn while in school. That profile includes: seek knowledge and understanding; think critically and solve problems; listen, communicate, and interact effectively; exhibit strong personal qualities; and engage and compete in a global environment. The profile helps guide all approaches to learning in the district….”
“Kids already know how to use their devices, but they don’t know how to learn with their devices,” Clark said in an edWeb webinar. It’s the teacher’s role to help them discover how to connect to content, one another and learning with a device that they may have only used for texting and Facebook previously. “It’s about the kids being empowered in the classroom to make decisions about the ways that they are learning,” Clark said.”
“Inquiry-based learning grounded in authentic projects go hand in hand with BYOD, Clark said. “What we are trying to do is get to transformative use of tech, where kids are doing things they wouldn’t be able to do without the tech,” Clark said. He recommends using big picture questions to frame ideas and help students identify the many smaller questions within the topic. “I expect that if I go to a student and ask them what’s the big question you are working on they’ll be able to tell me and talk about,” Clark said. “There’s not just one right answer. I want more questions to arise out of that one big question.”
“The most important thing is to take the focus off of the final product and place it on the process of discovery. “Find ways to ask the right questions to lead students to discover the apps they need to show what they know,” Clark said. He admitted that while the goal is to use the technology to transform learning, much of the time teachers and students are actually only adapting an old task to the new medium. Often that means work can be turned in more quickly and graded more efficiently. The most important thing is to take the focus off of the final product and place it on the process of discovery. “Find ways to ask the right questions to lead students to discover the apps they need to show what they know,” Clark said.
Is BYOD just Gwinnett and Forsyth or is the Georgia-wide?
How do you deal with the fact that many student can’t afford a $500 iPad to carry to school or don’t have a phone? (None of my kids have phones.)
How do you keep it from being stolen? Is that stressful to the students?
How are they using them at class time and for homework? How do the devices enhance the learning process?
Are they as Tim Clark from Forsyth County talks about using the devices to make regular functions faster or to learn and explore in a different manner?
How do ensure they on task and not texting mean stuff to each other?
Tell me about your experiences with BYOD?