Any conversation involving technology and education must involve Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) in one way or another. BYOD is becoming increasingly popular as it allows for school districts to “meet students where they are” in a way that is financially advantageous. In short, students are allowed to bring their devices (iPads, iPods, Android tablets, etc.) to school, connect them to a safe and secure network, and leverage their technology for educational purposes.
This year, my district has begun the process of implementing BYOD in what is being called a pre-pilot, and my students and I were delighted when we got the call to be the first classroom in the entire district to have the honor. While working with my students remains my main priority, it is also my duty to set the stage for teachers and students who will be a part of BYOD classrooms in the future. (Next year, the “real” pilot will begin with volunteer teachers from grades 5 and up.)
As a result, here is a quick snapshot of what I have learned (and some of my ideas that have been reinforced) throughout or BYOD pre-pilot:
- Students should always have their devices readily available, whether they are being used or not, as no amount of teacher planning can foresee all of the instances in which the technology could be of use. In other words, there is no such as thing as “BYOD time,” and lessons should not necessarily have to be planned around the devices themselves.
- The line between school and home should be blurred, as students are constantly leveraging the same devices and programs (Google Drive, learning management systems, blogging platforms, etc.) in both environments. This idea also helps to promote 24/7 learning.
- Ideally, learning should be redefined as students use their devices to accomplish tasks that would not otherwise be possible without the technology itself. However, standards must remain at the center of these experiences.
- The significance of digital citizenship must be stressed in a proactive fashion (and reactive, when necessary). These lessons can be integrated into instruction from multiple subject areas.
- Classroom parents should be made aware of all of the above, and a whole lot more (once again, both proactively and reactively). While a BYOD program may be wildly successful in both the eyes of teachers and the students, uninformed parents may feel as if they are on the outside looking in. Everyone must work together for the benefit of the students.
While the above bullet points are not entirely comprehensive, I would consider them to be a starting point for a successful BYOD program. As educators it is easy to get lost in all of the attractive apps and devices that are out there. (In fact, above you will find a “list” of the apps that I asked my students to download as soon as we started our pre-pilot.) I feel as if young children grow up with Apple and/or Android devices attached to their hips (or hands), and it is in the best interest of everyone involved for school districts to “take advantage” of this situation. Nevertheless, it is important to realize that BYOD isn’t just “more technology in the classroom,” but rather unchartered territory for most districts and classrooms. Have fun, but make sure you have a plan (which my district is developing right now).
“With great power comes great responsibility.” – Spider-Man
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