Some school districts are reconsidering their policies on students bringing their devices to classrooms. Several of our nation's schools are doing the pioneering on BYOD programs and we can learn quite a bit from them.
Says the New York Times in this article:
Volusia school officials say that they realized they should take advantage of, rather than fight, students’ deep connections with their devices. At the same time, the district found that the cost of providing and maintaining computers for students was becoming prohibitive.Also found in this post on overcoming the challenges of BYOD at a school district in Vermont:
Since the change, Volusia officials say, they have not encountered many tech support problems or complaints from teachers. Rather, students are more engaged, they say, and the only problem that regularly crops up is that students forget to charge the batteries in their devices.
Our planning has come to show that we are really talking about using mixed devices in four ways:If one limitation to using multiple devices is that not all apps work on every device, the above models ways to use the devices in an authentic and transformative way. Most smart devices have ubiquitous tools: Voice recorders, photo and video cameras, e-reader apps, calculators, wireless access to the internet. Students can still do research for projects. They can still access the internet, post to forums, and read documents.
- Continued, targeted practice of material: Using our devices to practice math facts, spelling, reading, etc.
- Information: Using devices to access materials in a variety of forms and from a variety of sources, by allowing students to explore content in age-appropriate ways with YouTube EDU, SweetSearch, Google Reader, Today's Doc App and BrainPop
- Collaboration: Brainstorming, creating and editing work together in programs like Google Docs, WallWisher, Bitly, Thinglink and Evernote
Equity is a major issue, too, which takes some imagination to address. When overcoming equity obstacles, it's important to keep in mind that students without access to technology at home are at a significant disadvantage. To address this, some of the districts going BYOD are making investments in "loaner" technology, by buying a device for the school and assigning it to a student on a monthly, quarterly or semester-long basis. Others rely on grants. Some are making use of devices donated to the school. The idea is that while lack of equity is problem, it is not a reason to avoid implementing a BYOD program altogether. When the student is given the challenge to create a deliverable product, what makes this challenge transformative is that the student has to creatively figure out how to make the project work, and this is an ESSENTIAL skill.