Tag Archives: #edchat

BYOD – A Blessing or a Curse?

English: A Nintendo DS Lite, shown with stylus.

I have been hearing more and more about BYOD or “bring your own device” on Twitter and in the blogs and educational news sources I read. It seems to be a growing trend in the business world too. Yet, the controversy around this idea seems almost as large as the hype. BYO is not a novel concept for restaurants or even schools when it comes to basic supplies (everyone can remember being asked to bring that box of crayons or later your composition notebook) but apparently devices are a different story.

What really made me stop to think more deeply about this topic was reading a recent post by first grade teacher @kathycassidy on using Nintendo DS as an assessment tool during a BYOD day she held. Maybe it’s because I’m not into gaming much but when I had previously though of BYOD, I always envisioned tablets, smartphones, and laptops. The idea of using gaming systems seemed at once novel and practical, especially after I read her post. She was able to use a device that many of her students have and a device that she already has six classroom-owned units of available to share with students who did not have a device. Students used the Nintendo DS to practice writing and using the long a sound (ai), which allowed their teacher to immediately view their submissions via the devices, allowing for faster assessment of their skills. @kathycassidy also discussed how students were able to self-assess and help one another by being able to see each other’s work on screen, making suggestions for improvement to their peers.

To me, this is an example of why BYOD can be so powerful and worthwhile for teachers to explore with their students. After viewing the #edchat archive for this week’s discussion of “Do the positives outweigh the negatives of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)?” I was reminded of the controversy around implementing this practice. There are a number of concerns about educational equity and students’ access to technology and their ability to bring a device to school. Some have argued that for these reasons, BYOD “enshrines inequity,” puts limitations on how we define student learning, and promotes an acceptance of limited funding for school technology. As @stumpteacher commented in #edchat, “BYOD sounds great, but with poverty such a powerful variable, we can’t ignore access/equality.” Additional concerns include schools and districts that forbid the use of student devices in school and a lack of professional development for teachers who are unsure how to adapt their lesson plans to include these new devices.

Yet, even with all of these concerns, I am in the camp that the positives do outweigh the negatives for a number of exciting reasons. First, as this first grade classroom found, devices allow for a new immediacy and individuality because every student who is using a device has the power to contribute their ideas and receive teacher support or feedback in a more immediate way. This classroom in New Jersey found similar results when students were allowed to use their cell phones in a math class. Another benefit to BYOD and allowing students to use their own devices seems to be increased engagement and participation. At the first grade level, this was exemplified through their increased oral language use, and for older grades, through their note-taking and responses in class discussion.

I also see value in the opportunity for students to bring devices that they already know how to operate, might easily be more advanced or updated than school technology, and can be a launchpad for students to share their knowledge and expertise with teachers. I feel that we should be conceiving of student devices more like the box of tissues students are asked to bring to class throughout the year. Those tissues become part of the class community and they are shared among various students. If a few students in the classroom have devices that they would like to contribute to the class community when they walk in the door (of course taking them with them when they leave) why should we forbid that? As @jonbergmann said during the #edchat, “The key is to not have all kids doing the same thing at the same time. Rethink Ed.” BYOD can be a unique opportunity for an influx of new technology resources that allow teachers to rethink their pedagogical practices and allow for students’ individuality and a diversity of classrooms activities.

Of course, I agree that BYOD needs to be thoughtfully implemented. A number of great resources for creating a BYOD Policy and User Agreement for your classroom or school were shared during #edchat, along with valuable lessons and questions to consider before you jump onto the BYOD bandwagon. It should be a decision that is well-planned and includes opportunities for ongoing check-ins and adjustments, as well as student and teacher learning about the reasons for and possibilities of BYOD. All of the concerns I mentioned above should be thoroughly discussed and the students, teachers, parents, and administrators involved should make sure it is a feasible, fair decision for their class or school community.

At the end of the day though, it seems to come back to one key idea. As one journalist said recently, BYOD is “a chance to connect our children to the world that has moved most assuredly into the digital age.” Instead of holding students back and making our own judgements about how responsible students can be with bringing their own devices to class, using them for educational purposes, and sharing them with device-less peers, let’s educate them about ways they could do all of these things. Let’s let students demonstrate to us how valuable these devices can be in the classroom.

What are your thoughts? Do the positives outweigh the negatives of BYOD?

Explorations with #edchat & Storify

  1. Twitter: It’s an immediate, endless, stream of opportunity and professional development, free for educators and anyone willing to engage their time in “drinking.”
  2. RT @2footgiraffe: Twitter is like a waterfall. Hold your cup under the water when you need a drink. Don’t worry about the rest. #edchat
    November 15, 2011 9:44:27 PM EST
  3. And by embracing Twitter and other technologies, educators make a commitment to relevant, forward-thinking, 21st century teaching strategies that can allow students to take the lead.
  4. RT @jillsiefken: Embrace Technology or Students Will Leave You Behind. tinyurl.com/78a25am #mnwcougars #edchat #gtchat
    November 15, 2011 9:31:55 PM EST
  5. Already, tools (#hashtags) and organizational processes (Twitter lists) have been developed to make tech use more meaningful and facilitate drinking from the waterfall and embracing these new technologies.
  6. Hashtags are powerful folks. Show others how to use them. They don’t have to be a Twitter member to reap the rewards. #edchat
    November 15, 2011 7:25:35 PM EST
  7. Yet, even with these tools, there are and always will be, bumps in the road where the water falls too fast and you get carried under by deluge of the learning opportunities, potential resources, and messages.
  8. #edchat I opened my blog…got writer’s block. Don’t know what to say about both today’s chats…just feeling a little overwhelmed or grumpy
    November 15, 2011 9:49:54 PM EST
  9. And this is where I think the idea of “Don’t worry about the rest” comes into play because …
  10. When teachers step back, students step forward. It’s not losing control. It’s sharing responsibility. #edchat
    November 15, 2011 12:32:39 PM EST
  11. It’s easy to think that as a teacher, trainer, educator, or leader of any sort, that you have to shoulder all of the responsibility but when you “recognize learners are decision makers” (Vella, 2002), a greater sharing, collaboration, and creative learning can occur.

Taking a Deeper Look at #edchat & Storify

Wow, it’s official, I have now launched my first professional résumé blog and am writing my first post! I have been thinking about creating this site for quite a while but the time constraints of working and being a full-time grad student, along with the uncertainty of exactly what I’d write, had held me back. But I finally decided to take the leap and just start writing!

That said, I chose to make this first post about two tech resources, one I’ve engaged in frequently (#edchat) and one that’s completely new to me (Storify). I started participating in #edchat around this time last year and since then, have gained a lot of knowledge and online resources from the weekly chats and from following the hashtag throughout the week. I have been inspired by the sheer number of educators across the globe who have participated in #edchat and really appreciate the relevant, participant-selected topics that are discussed.

Yesterday, I was able to participate in the first #edchat of the day (12pm EST) on the topic of “What is it that educators are supposed to be preparing kids for?” It was interesting to see the range of ideas discussed, including breaking away from standards-based education and testing, using ePortfolios for student and teacher reflective practice, and changing how we train teachers to make their education more relevant to schooling today. It’s a challenging question and I don’t think there’s any single answer to what educators are supposed to be preparing kids for. Instead, one thing I am wondering is, how often are educators and policy makers getting together to discuss this question (on Twitter and offline) and are there ways these conversations can occur more regularly? If enough people start asking and engaging in a discussion around these types of questions on a consistent basis it seems like we could make better progress in shaping our education system to be more relevant and supportive of students and to help prepare teachers to provide high-quality, meaningful education to all students.

Meanwhile, during #edchat yesterday I received a tweet that I was mentioned in someone’s Storify publication. I have been seeing more and more stories compiled through Storify recently so I decided that it was time to explore the site myself. If, like me, you are new to Storify, you can learn more about it on their FAQ page. I found that it was extremely easy to start an account, at least if you use your existing Twitter account to log in to the site. I had planned to compile a story or a Storify (is it used as a noun?) about the #edchat discussion because I had seen some interesting tweets during the chat and exchanged some thought-provoking messages with others who were participating. Unfortunately, when I went to create my story later that night, I realized that you can only view tweets relating to popular hashtags like #edchat from the past few hours. This meant that all of the tweets from the #edchat I had participated in were no longer visible … oops. So, as is often the case with technology, I had to change my plan.

As I tried to search and find tweets from the earlier #edchat discussion, I came across some more recent #edchat messages that sparked an idea for a new story. I realized that at almost any point, given the popularity #edchat, there are people tweeting ideas and perspectives that can lead to valuable reflection on education and technology. So using that idea, I compiled some tweets about Twitter and educators’ use of tech tools. Next, I added some text before each tweet to frame my ideas and elucidate how I saw one tweet connecting to another. Before I knew it, I had a short story composed of five tweets and a few short bits of text (see my next post). After exploring Storify, I think it will be a good addition to my list of free online tools that can be used to compile pieces of text, video, or pictures to describe an idea or convey  a message. It looks like a a great resource for students, teachers, trainers, or anyone using social media and looking to quickly and easily pull together different elements to tell a story. What do you think?