I am very fortunate because I teach at a school where we have invested in mobile technology, specifically iPads. If I want my students to create something using a specific app it’s pretty easy. However the iPads are picking up in popularity and I no longer have unlimited access to them so I’ve had to change my plan. My class does participate in BYOD but not all devices are the same so I can’t say “go into PicCollage” or “using BookCreator” I have to be aware that depending on the device some students may not have access to the apps that I am familiar and confident with. My awesome ITRT recently introduced me to the phrase Device Neutral Creation. Which means keep in mind the goal is creation. If you want your students to create a photo essay represented by a collection of images it doesn’t matter if they have an android or apple device. It doesn’t matter that they are all using the same app as long as they are all creating. You know what else I’ve learned, you don’t even need to know how to use the app they are using. Kids are really good at figuring it out. In fact when I show kids a new app I don’t worry about learning the ins and outs of the app. I learn enough to introduce and then I let the kids go. Usually in five or ten minutes they will have discovered more than I would have in an hour.
Device Neutral Creation makes BYOD a lot less scary. Kids don’t have to be using the same thing. The ultimate goal is creation.
Yesterday after school I had the privilege of attending and sharing at the Peel 21st North Network meeting on BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) It was so great getting to collaborate with other educators interested in teaching and learning with 21st Century strategies. Seriously the fastest hour of my life. I wish there was more opportunity to just talk to colleagues in this open sort of way and share. Too bad we can’t self direct our Professional Development more. But thank goodness for Twitter because I have been able to do that! It is also neat meeting your Tweeps in face to face situations as well!
Anyway the topic of discussion was BYOD and I was asked to share my experiences with BYOD in a primary classroom. By no means am I an “expert” as there isn’t really one correct way of managing it. You do what works for your classroom, school community and your comfort level. I’ve been doing BYOD since last year and I feel like it’s been pretty successful. On any given day I can have 3-8 devices brought in which is pretty great for 8 year olds. My feeling too is that as our school community becomes more comfortable with this more devices will be sent in. Anyway after talking last night I learned that some people do BYOD days in primary which is a really good way of handling the devices when you don’t wan to deal with them daily. I don’t do this. I ask my students to bring them in every day. More and more we are using them. This week I showed the kids how to use Miriam Webster dictionary online specifically the Thesaurus function. We have been writing Recounts and I see a lot of “And I felt happy” so this was a simple way showing the kids how to change them up. Best part was the kids who had devices were looking up words for their group mates who did not have them. We also use a safe search engine kidrex.org (powered by google) mostly it’s been during our #geniushour time and our Social Studies inquiry projects but more more when students have questions they will ask “may I use my device and look it up on Kid Rex?” Instead of the kids seeking the answers from me they are being problem solvers and figuring it out on their own. Isn’t that what the ultimate goal is? For students not to need us any more and to be able to be good at asking and answering questions? 🙂
One of the challenges with BYOD is not all children have the same apps on their devices. I’m in the process of updating my apple/android app list so parents can add them to their child’s devices but they aren’t always available on each type of device. A suggestion I learned from one of our ITRT (Instructional Technology Resource Teachers) Tina Zita @tina_zita give the students the tasks and let them figure out which app to use. So if you want them to create a video some might just use the simple camera function, some might use something like iMovie or show me or even educreations. The focus doesn’t have to be the product but more the process and it’s teaching them great problem solving skills. This is an idea I’m going to adopt for sure in my room.
Anyway the network meeting was fantastic and I look forward to the next session and I thank our ITRT team for putting together an amazing event for us!
Here’s a great video featuring the staff/students at Treeline Public School sharing their successes of BYOD. In case you aren’t aware Treeline has really pioneered the BYOD movement!
BYOD or Bring Your Own Device means students bring their own wifi enabled device to school to use for academic purposes. It is a really good idea because our schools in Peel are equipped with wifi and while many schools have invested in equipment like netbooks or iPads they are not 1 to 1 and they are shared with other classes so you don’t always have access to a device.
I’m encouraging my students to BYOD in Grade 3. You might read this and think that’s nuts. But they have demonstrated responsibility with devices time and time again. I am lucky to have a few devices and I allow the kids to use them and they are careful and respectful of them. They are also really interested in using the technology and I find their focus and attention goes up when the word “iPad” is mentioned.
Having their own device certainly makes #geniushour a lot easier. Students have access to research or look at videos at their finger tips instead of having to share my devices or use the 1 classroom computers.
We have a system in place for keeping devices secure. When not being used by students they are locked in a cupboard. The classroom door is locked when we are not in the room and students understand the importance of leaving their device in their backpack to and from school.
I understand that a device like a smart phone, iPod, tablet is an expensive piece of equipment so I get why some parents may be hesitant to send them to school. However they are a super valuable learning tool. Having your children explore and learn and discover how to use their own or family device in a new way (e.g. other than playing angry bird) is a great learning opportunity and a really effective 21st Century Learning Tool!