Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Reflections on my first year of BYOD

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I've struggled to put this post together because our use of technology is so much a part of life in the Northern Learning Centre that its hard to reflect on how learning would be different without it. In addition, technology is so much a part of the way I work and learn that its almost impossible to separate it from pedagogy. To that end I don't mean to sound at all as if I have it all figured out, I'm learning just like you are! For me, the move to bring your own device (BYOD) this year was an opportunity for me to create a learning environment for my students that looks just like the environment I learn in and have been learning in for years. Here are my reflections on the year in terms of student responsibility, learning tools, and learning resources in a BYOD environment. They are in no particular order.

  • Digital Fluency:
    • We as a system need to increase students levels of digital fluency. Before entering our program some of our students had not had the opportunity to explore computing efficiencies such as quick keys, shortcuts, browsers capabilities, bookmarking until they entered our classrooms. When it came to sending emails or sharing pictures most students were comfortable with one method at best, so it was exciting to open their eyes to all the possibilities - especially when it lead to increased use and functionality of their phones, iPods or personal devices in school and personal contexts.
  • Organization:
    • Technology provides an excellent way to scaffold students organization skills. They loved storage in the cloud, and could use it with high efficacy. Some students implemented their own time management systems such as using sticky or reminders for deadlines and to track progress on ongoing tasks. We're thinking about replacing rolling out shared calendars as a primary organizational method. Feel free to weigh in with feedback if you've tried it.
  • Paper:
    • We weren't ready to give up paper. Part way through the year my Teaching partner and I decided we would ask for assignments to be printed. This gave students a tangible end to a piece of work, and gave us a tangible product to assess. Early on some even asked for paperwork, as it was hard to give up cold turkey.
  • Distractions:
    • We grossly overestimated the problem of devices as distractions. Very rarely did we feel student devices were an added distractions in class. The reality was, they were there anyway. The difference was now they were being used out in the open where previously they had only been hidden. As a practice we would ask students to close or put away technology when it wasn't needed, and when needed we would ask a student to leave their technology on our desks if it had been used inappropriately, but cases of inappropriate use were very rare (no more common then inappropriate use of cell phones in a traditional environment)
  • Apps and Extensions:
    • Students enjoyed having the ability to find tools like apps (teleprompter, write on calculator), and extensions (speech to text, text to speech). Our public wireless network which our students use doesn't currently allow all apps to function perfectly, but this is one are we are looking at in the future so we can better utilize the many  tools there are out there.
  • Responsibility:
    • If we truly want to educate students to become leaders of the future we need to teach citizenship. Some of the most exciting teachable moments for my partner and I were those around a students digital footprint. Its so interesting to break down the walls students set up between their lives inside and outside the classroom. Whether its publishing their work, asking questions on shared doc, promoting a cause or event, we want students to feel safe, secure, and confident as they find however and wherever they find their voice and find their identity.
  • Critical Consumers:
    • The open availability of learning resources demands that we teach students to be critical consumers of what they hear, see and read; and also teach students to more find quality information more efficiently and effectively. Teaching students to do these things requires a great deal of time and effort, and I'm so glad I can teach and model strategies for finding and critically assessing information along the way rather then as lessons unto themselves.
  • Sharing Resources:
    • The socially responsible action in response to the open availability of learning resources is that we share. Spaces for personalization were beginning to be embraced. Last year it was blogs, next year we'll tweak the way we do social bookmarks and try again (last year we tried Diigo and Moodle Forums, next year I will be trying shared boards on Pinterest). Along with this we need to teach students to acknowledge the work of others and use it responsibly.  Again, a big work worthy of a big investment of time and energy.
  • Collaboration:
    • We believe one of the greatest uses of technology in the classroom is for collaboration. More and more tasks can be accomplished online with sharable resources and tools: partner and team projects,  peer/ teacher feedback and critique, co-constructing rubrics and projects, surveys, assessments, and sign ups, and shared calendars were all used in the Northern Learning Centre.  Most of these tools were adopted very quickly by students, and collaboration quickly became the norm in our classes!

  • Sharing our work:
    • Finally we are challenged to learn with our students as they seek to produce work that has lasting value. Not only does technology make it easy to ensure that our work goes through a process of multiple drafts, but it also creates so many opportunities for public exhibition. Publishing work online is intensely visual, and online production is increasingly pushing us to be intentional about the production quality of our work. Digital production allows us to critique and revise a project for its content, structure, and presentation. 

I'd love to share more about my BYOD and hear about yours. Please share your comments, questions, and experiences!

My email address is schase@sd57.bc.ca if you prefer to connect that way.