Apr 14 2012

Prototyping BYOD

ASB is a leader in the use of technology to enhance our students’ educational experiences. We believe that by using technology appropriately, students are more highly engaged in their own education, have increased opportunities to develop higher order thinking skills and are better prepared to participate in a world where technological fluency is essential.

With the increased availability of sophisticated personal mobile technologies, it is becoming possible to personalize learning for each and every learner. For students to be truly self-directed and reflective lifelong learners and collaborative meaning makers, they must own their learning and the devices that facilitate it.

At the elementary school level students in grades 1 to 5 are provided laptops by the school. (In the middle and high schools, all students buy and bring a school-specified Tablet PC.) Earlier this year we ran a prototype for eight weeks in a section of grades 3 and 4 where students brought their personal mobile device – iPad, Android tablet, Netbook, or Laptop – to school daily. This was an optional program – not all students brought a device to school. During the eight weeks we studied how using a personal device in school can impact student learning, classroom instruction, classroom management, and digital citizenship. This was done through classroom observations, focus group interviews, and parent surveys.

We were answering two questions through this prototype:

  • What are the types of learning opportunities that a Bring-Your-Own-Device program can enable?
  • What are the essential conditions for a successful Bring-Your-Own-Device in the ES?

These are the findings from the BYOD prototype in grades 3 and 4.

Parents’ hopes and expectations for their child(ren) prior to the start of the prototype:

  • Learn to use their device.
  • See their device as both an educational and a leisure time tool
  • Understand how to use and become comfortable with using the same device at home and in school.
  • Will be prepared for middle school laptop ownership
  • Develop skills in consistently storing/managing data.
  • Learn to be responsible in looking after the device – charging, etc.
  • Will not only become proficient using the device and learn new and creative ways to use it but become more of an inquirer taking responsibility for their own learning
  • Become more responsible and also enjoy new ways of learning.

Important Learnings from the prototype

  • The Bring-Your-Own-Device option supports the following:
      • Personalized learning for each and every learner
      • Students can be more self-directed and reflective
      • Give students more ownership of their learning – When students bring their own devices, the computers are not locked down and they have full ownership over the device. This has been shown to be valuable as it gives them control over the device which is then connected to control over their learning.
      • Expand learning opportunities outside the classroom
  • All our software is in the “cloud” or on the web. This is an important factor that contributed to the success of the prototype as no software installations were required. Irrespective of the operating system and device, students were able to access the tool they needed online.
  • Not all devices were appropriate for the level of productivity we required from our students. The “tablet” devices like the iPad and Galaxy Tabs became supplementary consumptive devices and did not support the kinds of work our students needed to do using a connected device.
  • Our conclusion — Devices that best support our students’ work in school – laptops.
  • As laptops can be used for three or more years, we defined minimum specifications for these to support students’ use of these devices into middle school.
  • A list of FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) was also created to support learning.
  • Suggestions to consider:
    • Guidelines for parents on home use of devices so they can provide effective guidance at home.
    • Create drop-in office BYOD hours for parents after school (e.g. from 3 to 4 pm) a few times a week where parents can get tech help on their child’s devices.
    • Share a list of laptops that parents can consider purchasing that meet the minimum specifications.
  • Parents also noticed the following specific changes in their child(ren) and their use of the personal device
    • Use of school email to access links and information for homework.
    • Greater confidence and ease with the use of their personal devices and other computers at home.
    • Seamless switching between devices to find the information they need.
    • Proactive problem solving on all devices
      • Shift in the use of the device from searching for games to creating google docs to sharing documents and information.
      • Increased level of responsibility
      • Seamless use of technology tools for research and learning
  • The following conditions need to be in place for a successful BYOD:
    • A Culture of Tech Integration – where technology use as a tool is already seamlessly integrated into the classroom.
    • Digital Citizenship – a continuous and ongoing focus on digital citizenship and responsible use of technology (hardware, software, data)
    • Technical Specs – Minimum specifications defined for the acceptable device so there’s minimal downtime.
    • Tech Support – Guidance and advice available to parents and students.
    • Parent Digital Fluency – Parents have a level of comfort in using technology and online tools so they can engage with their child in their learning as well as monitor use of technology at home.
    • Home-School Partnership – ongoing conversations between home and school as both partner to prepare students for a world where using technology is an essential life skill.

What started as a prototype to answer two questions has now been implemented across the school. Next year we are going BYOD from grades 6 to 12 and giving students in grades 4 and 5 the option to bring their own laptop to school! It’s been a surprising and amazing shift in a short time. I look forward to continuing to share our journey over the next year.


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