Regular readers of this blog will know that our school has embraced BYOD approach to technology at school
Although we have had a soft launch to thi
s policy for the previous two years, this year marks the first year of our full implementation.
Two months into the school year I thought it would be helpful to report out on some observations, challenges and successes.
We have seen an exponential growth of devices here at school. To be clear, many of these devices were probably already here but our policy is now bringing those devices out, in public, where they can be successfully used by students. We are currently peaking at 1200 devices on our WiFi network. With a school population (staff and students) of 550, that averages to about 2 devices per person.
Sharing the Technology
A teacher’s tech problem/issue doesn’t have to stall the lesson. With both teacher and students having access to devices, a technology dependent class has a less likelihood of stalling if the teacher’s device crashes. No more awkward “talk among yourselves” as the teachers scrambles. We can now share devices.
With more users relying on our WiFi and wired network, the need for a stable and consistent infrastructural has become more pronounced. Minor interruptions to our WiFi network (our system has been very reliable) today causes a loud chorus of “is the WiFi down?” from both staff and students.
Need to Support
Creating, supporting and sustaining a technology rich environment requires technical support. Nothing is quite as frustrating and undermining than having a less than consistent hardware and software. Nonetheless, from time to time stuff breaks down. Because of the increasing reliance on our technology infrastructure (WiFi, desktops, projectors, etc) , the timely repair of these issues is critical. Over the years we have increased the time allocated to our I.T teacher to provide the necessary supports to enable a learning culture supported by technology.
Honesty & Integrity
Academic Integrity is a priority. This has always been a priority for any school. Cheating is an issue that needs to be dealt with when it arises. In our experience, technology has not created more cheating but rather new realities and challenges. We have had to do some teaching around integrity and create systems to mitigate the likelihood of cheating with personal devices. The bigger issue around cheating revolves around the “why” of cheating. Solve the “why” and solve the cheating.
Where’s the outlet?
We are seeing more student devices plugged into outlets around the school. Moving forward we probably need to adopt smart solutions to this.
From under the desk to the desk top
As student devices become more mainstream at school, it has brought on-line interactions more mainstream and to the attention of responsible adults. The devices have gone from under the desk to the desk top. This has allowed us to deal with issues of digital citizenship more frequently.
What is my role?
More and more teachers are realizing that they no longer have the sole responsibility of delivering content to students. It is my observation that this reality has caused more and more teachers to reflect deeply on what their fundamental role is. An interestin
g response to this reality (I don’t think it is a coincidence) is that a large number of teachers are looking at Problem Based Learning as part of their professional learning plan.
Apps that leverage personal devices
I am noticing that teachers are accessing and using more applications that cater to the
effective use of personal devices. I am happy to report that we are seeing more than just teachers using PowerPoint. For example, we have seen a rise of QR codes throughout the school (here is an example in English 11)
The need to unplug
We need to unplug. As our use of technology at school evolves, we are becoming increasingly mindful of modelling the need to unplug at times. Being present in relationship and being present in authentic community is a value we need to uphold and maintain. This is essential to who we are as a Christian Catholic school community.