BYOD Trial – a real world inquiry.

Last week our school started a BYOD trial with my class.  We have been wanting to increase the ratio of devices to students for some time and after talking to @annekenn about her classes journey this year (and getting some great resources – thanks Anne!) at the last educampdunners we decided to try our own leap into the future!

Here are the agreement / disclosure forms we asked each student to read and fill in with the parents in this box.net folder – feel free to download. Below is also the parent letter that was sent home introducing the trial to the parents, as well as the link to the classroom blog post that explained what we are doing and how it’s going so far.

On the first day of our trial we created a ‘stem chart’ of possible issues that may arise and how we could address them.  The two ideas that we decided to promote to our parents were;
   – make sure you have really good contents insurance – damage is the responsibility of the owner (within reason, excusing deliberate damage by another student, obviously).
   – students with personal devices should be sole users unless collaborating with another student under supervision.


We’ve also discovered how to do a search in icloud to find our ios devices which could be a handy deterrant from theft in the future. – (plus it;s just so cool to see how accurate the GPS is on our devices!)

Here is a recorded interview with some students from our class about how the trial is going so far.  It was really interesting to also hear from 2 students who don’t have their own device at school and the impact the trial is having on them.

Here are our next steps

1.  Upgrade our wireless to cope with the increased device connections.  We are in the process of getting high-speed broadband (the diggers are outside my office window as we speak) and we’re also investigation getting a ‘robust’ wireless network that is industrial standard. A bonus of this, we are told, will be the ability to trace the user’s footprints on our internet connection by tracking the mac address of that device (an important part of the BYOD registration process which we collect off each user’s device when they arrive at school).

2.  Planning a parent workshop for all parents interested in a future BYOD policy across the school.  Having the trial in our school will give us some excellent data, experience and student reflections about the use of personal devices in class – rather than talking about some other school’s experience.

We have decided to gather advice, make informed decisions and work with our students and parents as we go.  I know of some schools who are taking a cautionary approach and working through ALL possible pitfalls before they jump in.  There are pros and cons to that approach but, so far, we are enjoying the collaborative path; working with parents and students as we go.

So far…so good.

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Throw away lines worth keeping

This week our staff spent some time over two days with Stuart Hale (@stuartnz) looking at mobile technologies in schools – the trends, the future and some hands on practical tips for ipads and ipods.

Over those 2 days I was able to catch some great one liners that I tweeted.  Here are my favourites and a comment or two.

“If you think technology is expensive for schools, try ingnorance.”  

Stuart was speaking to a group of Principals and Boards and explaining the costs of infrastructure and monthly broadband.  Sadly there are too many schools with a deficit view on technology. – ‘We’ll buy a couple of computers for every room cause we don’t want to look behind the times.’  They rarely invest the capital needed for what @Stuartnz calls, ‘A robust wireless network’ let alone the resources needed for effective staff PD and support.  Technology is moving rapidly and, I would argue, its use in education.  The long term costs of falling further and further behind is frightening!

“Technology will hook them but it won’t cook them.”

It’s true that technology can be great for motivation and engagement.  But, as we all know, it’s the expertise of the teacher to use technology within an effective teaching process that makes the difference.  High expectations, higher order thinking, formative practise, personalised learning strategies; these are some of the steps in that process.  ‘He tangata, tangata, tangata.’  It’s also all about people – the relationship between the teacher and the students is most important!

“Feed the hungry!  Stop watering stones.”

There is a trend in many schools to have a technology strategy that spreads access across all classrooms and teachers.  @Stuartnz puts a lot of the blame for this on the shoulders of our egalitarian society.  We want to make things fair and equal but what this usually results in is computers in classrooms gathering dust while a teacher next door is crying out for more!

I’ve written about my ‘peloton model of change’ before (a peloton is a group of bike riders who use one rider at the front to break the air in front and create a draft for those behind) where we resource one or two progressive teachers and see them drive change and elearning progress with a school.  If we want to see change we need to equip the change makers.

“We shouldn’t be teaching hammer skills.  We should be teaching woodwork.”

Many teachers will go to some PD on how to use imovie and then teach the same skills to their class the next day. There’s no question that students need to learn these skills but gone are the days of the computer suite where we teach a class how to use a tool.  This generation picks up things incredibly quickly and can easily do it within the learning process.

Teach the skills as you move through your movie making project and learn them as you need them.  Don’t teach students how to use comic life – use comic life while teaching your students to communicate a message to an audience.

“Your digital footprint is like a tattoo.  Once it’s there you can’t remove it.”

Everyone needs to understand that their digital actions have eternal consequences.  What we upload is incredible difficult to remove if others have owned or distributed it.  There are many students, @Stuartnz commented, that are putting their futures in jeapody due to naive mistakes they are making in their teens and twenties.  It’s all about being cyber-smart!