Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Bring Your Own Device

At Easter all our students were asked to supply an iPad as part of their school equipment. I have read blog posts from senior leaders who explain why Bring Your Own Device has not been successful because teachers have not embraced. I am worried that this will be the same situation at my school.

The students often do have their own IT equipment, the older students use laptops for coursework, research and typing up their projects. Younger year groups like to make videos with theirs. But there has never been the expectation that students would use ICT in lessons, and I haven't been.

I know of schools that use iPads in their lessons and many teachers that would love the opportunity that I will have in September. In areas of America they seem to embracing iPads in education with enthusiasm.

However, BYOD presents me more issues that using 1-2-1 devices that have an image controlled by the school. Can I insist that students download certain applications? I might be able to do that with free applications, but what about paid ones? What if their device is full, can I insist a student deletes an app so they can use the one I want them to?

I also wonder about other aspects of students having their own devices? Should I be incorporating e-safety more obviously into my teaching? Should I be worried that a year 7 student might make a video clip for me and upload it to YouTube?

Another concern is that the using the technology will take longer than doing an alternative with paper and pen, detracting from the learning of the concepts. We struggle for curriculum time as it is, and devoting more lesson time to creating digital content may mean lessons have less learning?

On the other hand, ICT presents an opportunity. Students can use video to supplement their understanding, they can collaborate on experiments more easily, they can take photographs allowing recording of work more easily. Do they need everything written in a book or file?

iPads in the classroom should make my life more easy; student using online, immediately marked, homework packages would be one example. I would like students to be able to find records of their learning in videos and photographs as well as in notes. A variety of ways they can access information can only be helpful.

I want to help my classes use ICT to become more organised. I already use my iCal applications to organise my calendar, it would be great to do the same for the students, even sharing calendar events.

But using iPads in lessons is going to be a major change, I will have to think about how I resource every lessons and work on creating more resources than presentations and worksheets. Editable forms, blogs, videos, online quizzes will all become part of my practice and I need time to be able to create these resources. I need the equipment myself to create these resources.

Then I ask myself, will it be worth it? Will my attempts to use ICT in lessons be scuppered by the student who is waiting for a new one because they have smashed their screen or can't take a photograph until they have deleted the 3000 they have on their device already, or the wireless network that decides to switch itself off during my lesson?

I suppose I will have to try it and see.


  1. Second try at a comment!

    Some really interesting ideas in this post; I wish most SMT, politicians and the media had given it the same kind of consideration. I'm not able to bring in a similar approach at my place, although I've considered trying it with just sixth form.

    As far as applications go, I'd not even considered the implications of expecting kids to use your chosen software. In time will it be the same as them bringing pens and calculators? (Not that mine can manage that, a lot of the time!) The cost for most useful apps is pretty minimal.

    Hmm... I'm a big fan of Evernote and this has huge potential, as notes can include text, files, pictures and videos. It can be set to share a single note or a whole notebook, with an individual, a list or whoever has the link. You could have each student set up a 'science notes' notebook and 'science homework' one. You have access to the HW, and they can each see notes from the whole class. If you've a VLE then you could even include a directory of everyone's notes.

    You can do similar things with Google Drive, and I'm sure there are iOS equivalents, but you can't do the tagging which makes searching so useful in Evernote. But then I'm biased! Otherwise, a simple mind making app and some kind of flash card set up to share revision materials. Sorted!

    If only it were that easy...

    1. I really like the idea of evernote, and being free really helps. There is a maximum upload size per month and it would worry me that they'd reach this (I have before) and therefore not be able to do work for other teachers. However, the benefits outweigh this as it can be used across devices and syncs really well. It is certainly on my list of apps to ask the students to have.

      I have discovered today that dropbox and google docs are blocked, which I can understand, but it is frustrating as I want to be able to share documents with students. Which makes me wonder about evernote!

      I wouldn't be without my smart phone and macbook air, I think that young people will start to feel the same as we use them more in class and they feel comfortable. I am looking forward to the day they choose the appropriate software and I don't have to introduce it to them.

    2. Imagine a school wide policy, kids introduced to (eg) Evernote and two other basics, asked to nominate other apps for particular purposes. Each week, instead of set homework, what if we expected them to edit and expand their notes, adding links and references, taking photos of their written exercises as evidence. Imagine several years of searchable notes, crosslinked between subjects by tags. Science topics joined to maths, geography, technology. Imagine teachers using it to share comments and feedback on inset, books and ideas with each other, and resources with the kids.