Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Are We Missing The Mark? 3 Ways to Get Beyond BYOD Fears

Gadgets (past and present)
Is your thinking on BYOD as dated as the tech in this picture?

Open house.

I wonder how many administrators have trouble attending open house as a parent.  I know I do.  It's hard to turn off the urge to evaluate and coach while listening to the teachers' presentations.  Am I supposed to be scripting?  Should I point out the typo on the class expectations sheet?  Are you really going to enforce that policy?

I try to look at the big picture and for the most part my children have had wonderful teachers.  My kids do well in school. They work hard, they play sports, they stay involved.  There are two areas, however, where my children's teachers (and others?) are missing the mark.

Today I explore one area.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

As a self proclaimed tech geek I was excited when our district adopted a BYOD policy this year.  The old policy on tech was "if you use it or we see it - you loose it" and included progressive, mandatory discipline for each infraction.  To illustrate how 'big a deal' BYOD was in my house, my wife and I bought the kids new smartphones because of the policy.  Imagine my dissappointment when I attended open house at the middle school (I have 3 middle schoolers in the same grade, same core) and the teachers announced, "Even though the district has said your kids can bring their own devices to class, we decided that they need to be kept in their lockers during the school day."  

Are you kidding me?

Fantastic opportunity wasted.  The math teacher even said they could download a four-function calculator to use - on their homework!  I'm sure my kid's teachers are not the only who fear BYOD.   But fear should not keep us (the collective educators us) from using these powerful tools.  Here's three things you can do to help your teachers adjust to a new BYOD policy.

1) Teach etiquette. Students are used to hiding devices and sneaking looks while the teacher's attention is directed elsewhere.  Teach kids that there is a right time and a right way to use tech in an academic setting.  Texting during Cornel notes is not ok; using an app to take notes is.

2) Carry portable tech and use it productively yourself.  Let teachers and students know you are using it and what you are using it for.  Find a lost student in-between classes?  Instead of using the walkie to radio the office to get the kid's schedule, use your mobile device to access the network and find the information immediately.  Students and teachers will make the connection.

3) Offer to demonstrate ways to use tech in the classroom.  Showcase tools like PollEverywhere or PollDaddy.  Get instant student feedback and interactions with TodaysMeet.  Start with simple tools like the ones listed  then delve into deeper tech usage like blogs, wikkis, and online assessments.

I've offered just three suggestions to keep the starting point simple - I know it's easy to get overwhelmed with the number of apps and tech choices out there.  If you have other suggestions for helping teachers adapt to BYOD policies I'd love to hear from you.  Just leave a comment below.

Up next is part two of Are We Missing the Mark? where I'll look at formative and summative assessments.

Photo credit:    JasonLangheine

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