BYOD: What We’re Learning

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.

The Numbers

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.

Stability Required

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.

Any outlet will do

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.

I’m sure we will learn much more as we continue to empower our teachers and students to use technology to enrich learning.

I am particularly interested in hearing from other schools that have adopted a BYOD approach to technology. Any insights and ideas are always welcome!

The post was originally posted on Figuring It Out @jvbevacqua

22 comments for “BYOD: What We’re Learning

  1. November 10, 2012 at 1:15 am

    We are in year two of BYOD at our school. We have adopted this practice openly and publicly, but not officially because our system still has a policy that explicitly prohibits students from using personal digital devices. I have the blessing of the superintendant on this and had the privilege of helping to write a new policy that is working its way through the labyrinth of the approval process now.

    You hit the most critical points. We panicked when our entire wifi access crashed earlier this semester; thanks to a great tech team maintenance that had been neglected has put us back on track and major upgrades to our network are planned. We still have a long way to go in convincing some teachers that instructional technology is not mutually exclusive with good teaching; support for willing teachers who struggle is also a priority.

    There is a second emphasis at our school, which I believe has a greater potential to be a transformative force for us – classroom assessment. We are committed to understanding – carefully and methodically – what assessment IS. And to courageously beginning to apply that learning. It seems to me that this is powerfully relevant to the “Honesty and Integrity” concerns you mentioned. What if totally access to the power of the Internet was absolutely useless as a way of cheating? I believe that we should harness this incredibly powerful tool to lift students last at least the first of Bloom’s levels. I think this whole process might be what you are hinting at when you talk about teachers’ reexamination of their roles. I say we should ask students questions they can’t google and then encourage them to synthesize information they CAN find readily to build powerful learning.

    I am very interested in following your progress down this path and learning with you.

    • December 2, 2012 at 11:56 am

      I would love to receive guidance on making this transition. Right now, we’re dealing with budgetary constraints that I believe BYOD would solve. I’m speaking with a few, but I’m researching schools that have had rules against student technology and their transition, as well as schools like yours, George, who are already there–I’d love to look at your “responsible use” policies–those for faculty and students. It would be very helpful in setting up our policies and structures if we could model some powerhouses! Thanks.

  2. Ray Tolley
    November 12, 2012 at 10:22 am

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for BYOD/T and (perhaps) the Law is different in different countries. But in the UK the understanding concerning the adoption of BYOD/T is somewhat different.

    It is all to do with Risk Assessment. If there is a known risk eg cyber-bullying, pornography, provocative comments etc, that risk MUST be dealt with before BYOD/T is permitted. If there is the slightest incidence of misuse then the whole chain of responsibility is in danger of serious sanctions.

    This applies particularly to all staff and parents as although we may instruct children and even get them to sign personal contracts in Acceptable Use Policies, I suspect that in a court of law the child would not be held accountable for not understanding the implications of the ‘small print’.

    • November 12, 2012 at 6:36 pm

      Hi Ray
      Thanks for your comments. Due diligence and ensuring that we take the necessary steps to mitigate some risk is something we need to be mindful of. For example, we have some upstream filters that block some content on our Wifi network (illegal activity etc.), and acceptable use policies. But this issue goes beyond our school and our Wifi. Whether schools choose to admit it, students are bringing devices to school and in some instances communicating without using any of the school’s infrastructure (i.e. cellular data). This only services to high light the moral imperative that schools have to teach, model and inform student about digital citizenship.
      One could argue that it is negligent for schools/districts to site “risk management” concerns for choosing not the deal with this issue in schools.
      Thanks for stretching my thinking on this topic

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