What is it? What do you need to know?
Until recently electronic items like cell phones, iPods, iPads, Kindles, Nooks, tablets, Chromebooks, etc., were considered contraband in the classroom. Students were generally told to keep any such items in their lockers. However, now that schools are realizing that the ability of the technology in the students’ pockets is often superior to the technology in the classroom or lab down the hall, the tune may be changing. Since school funding does not provide an unlimited budget for technology, upgrades may be few and far between. But these days many students have one of these modern pocket-sized, hand-held computers. Thus, enter the evolution of BYOD which stands for Bring Your Own Device.
The idea is that students can bring their mobile devices into the classroom to be used for learning. If done properly, this can provide a very rewarding and engaging classroom experience. However, if you don’t plan properly, both you and your students will be frustrated!
Check Your District Policy
Not all school districts have updated their policy to allow for students having mobile devices in the classroom. Be sure you are familiar with the district policy so that you and your students are not in violation. If your district has not revised policy, feel free to set an appointment with your technology coordinator, curriculum specialist, or other designee to discuss possible changes. It won’t happen overnight, but sometimes if you don’t nudge it along, it won’t change at all…so be a catalyst.
It’s critical to the success of your classroom BYOD experience that you have planned properly. Using these devices in the classroom is not meant to be a replacement for instruction. Rather it should be used to enhance the lessons and allow for students to experience learning in a way that cannot happen otherwise.
You also need to train the students how to act with their devices in a classroom. Develop a protocol. For me, they must put their devices face down in the upper left corner of their desk…and they must remain there until we are using them. Once you go through this protocol a few times, the device that is so intriguing the first few times they walk in the room with it will become no more exciting sitting there than their pencil.
There will be “speed bumps” along the way…just plan for it. Want specifics? Well, not every student will have a device. That means you must have some plan in place to account for that. I have 8 computer stations in the room, so if someone doesn’t have a device, it’s not a problem. If you don’t have that, consider partnering kids up.
You will have to be ready for a wide variety of devices to show up in your room. There will be Android and iPhones, iPods, iPads, Kindle Fires, Nooks, Android tablets, Windows Surfaces, and more. It’s a cornucopia of electronics! The main thing to know…you don’t have to be an expert at all of them. Ask the kids to help one another with how to find, operate, and use their devices.
Even with the best plan and all the prep work done, there will be some problems you just have to get through. You will have some kids who cannot get the wifi signal, others who cannot download an app because of parental controls or because they forgot their app store password. Just go in expecting it. Have patience – you will all be learning as you go.
If you plan, have patience, stick to your protocols, have patience, navigate the speed bumps and have more patience, you will be able to get to a place where the kids use these devices as another tool to extend the learning.
Jennifer S. – Ohio Teacher – Grades 6-8