Wednesday, April 4, 2012

BYOD Experiment

I know its too early to be jumping ahead to summer, but I am already thinking about projects that I want to work on. I want to re-do several of my videos for the flipped classroom (adding more content, changing things, polishing them etc). I also need create videos for the content at the beginning of the year since I did not flip until February. That itself will be an enormous undertaking however I know deep down their is another thing that I'm itching to implement into my classroom: going paperless.

Now I'm not going to go ENTIRELY paperless, I still plan on sending student Interactive Notebooks home with the kids, and paper will never fully go away, but I'd like to see the kids using and synthesizing information on devices that make sense to them.

We have a few laptop carts in the building and I do grab them on occasion to assist with research. However, more and more, I find the students looking at them not as the "futuristic" machines that they have long been herald as, but rather as these dinosaurs...their world has already moved past that.

We also have an iPad cart, and I do find the students much more receptive to working with them. I think a huge part of it is the "new" concept and that they are "en vogue." After talking to a few students I think that another reason they like them so much more is that they are really giant iPods. Many of my students have iPods and are familiar with how the internet works on them. In fact they were thrilled when I told them they could access the videos for the class using their iPods. Some even requested that I upload materials to iTunes for them to download as podcasts (I'm all for this, I just can't figure out how to do that...another project for the summer perhaps)!

Why am I saying all this? Well I've started an experiment with one class section. It is my smallest class, and probably my most responsible. I had a conversation with them about using their phones and iPods in class for research purposes and for working through the coursework. They bought into it so quickly I was astounded. I was more astounded that during the past week they have been actively using these devices every day FOR SCHOOL WORK! They really are staying focused. Some students also brought in a Kindle or  Nook and downloaded articles they found in their research to read on them...fantastic idea!

I think next year I want to implement a "BYOD" (Bring Your Own Device) policy in my classroom (thanks for the idea Confessions of a Jesuit School CIO ). Even on days when I do get the laptop cart, there are only 14, and I have 23 students. Additionally they are slow, and students get frustrated. I'm going to continue this mini experiment with just the one class, but next year I'm going to attempt to expand to all my classes.

I know other teachers have made students a part of the process to set up an agreement with how technology and devices will be used appropriately in the classroom, I plan on doing that as well.

Problems I foresee:

-Students that do not have a device feeling left out
-Creating a conflict with the School's policy of no cell phones
-Using devices for inappropriate reasons (not being able to monitor 23 students at once)
-Other teachers getting angry about their use in my classroom (and students trying to get away with using them in other classes)
-Loss/Theft of devices
-They are still kind of young..middle school

Reasons I think it will be worth the potential "problems":
-Students can create work on their own device, no more uploading saving and emailing off of the school's computers
-Faster speeds, updated technology
-Fill the gap of the shortage of laptops etc
-Teachable moments opportunity for using technology for learning
-It will be easier to create some kind of class social network space (I'm thinking a twitter feed for each class period or a "hangout" in Google+)

Has anyone else ever experimented with devices in the classroom? Is middle school to young? Do you find students use it to their advantage or take advantage of it?

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