Friday, July 25, 2014

Whether You Like It or Not, You MUST Embrace BYOD!!!

I just finished reading chapter 9 of Eric Sheninger's book "Digital Leadership" (click here). In this chapter he talks about the different ways that technology can be infused in schools through every day instruction, but his section on BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) really spoke to me.  While I have always tried to embrace students using their personal technology to enhance instruction, I only scratched the surface of what this concept really means for students and their learning.

"As we move even further into this century, technology becomes even more embedded into our society."

Think about this. When was the last time that you left your cell phone at home? If you left it at home, did you go back home to get it? Children are bringing their devices to school everyday, so there's really not a question of whether or not to have BYOD, Bring Your Own Device.  Your school is a BYOD school because parents have equipped their children with devices, and now the question has morphed into this:  

How does your school embrace devices?

There are 3 different ways that schools embrace BYOD. 

1.  Negative Embracement

For fear that students will use their devices for inappropriate purposes, schools ban them altogether.  They institute fine systems for pulling them out in class; therefore, students learn to use personal devices in a very secretive way. The result of this form of embracement is negative in every way: time wasted correcting students and negative student perceptions of school.  Even worse, there is a negative impact on learning because kids will find a way to use their device regardless of punitive tools at your disposal. 

2. Neutral Embracement

Because school personnel know that devices are everywhere, and they can't eliminate them, they choose to put policies in place that tolerate cell phones. Students are allowed to use them at times where learning does not occur such as during class change, during lunch or during "free-time" at the end of class. In this system students are conditioned to believe that devices carry no real potential to enhance learning. They are explicitly taught that personal devices are for personal business and nothing more. The result of this form of BYOD is negligible.  Time isn't wasted, but it isn't really maximized either.  Learning isn't really enhanced either.  The status quo keeps pretty much everything stagnant. This form of embracement puts learning in neutral.

3. Positive Embracement

Since the potential found in devices is limitless, schools are finding unique and innovative ways to incorporate technology into every aspect of their system. Schools are eliminating announcements in place of using social media to communicate with kids. Research is being conducted on screens instead of in books. Technology is being leveraged.  Positive effects are abounding because with proper procedures and training for staff, students are more engaged, more connected and more focused. Their learning becomes more relevant, more purposeful and more productive. The more successful the integration, the more positive rewards students will reap from their learning.  Positive embracement of technology occurs only when technology is infused into areas where learning is expected to take place. 

So Which BYOD belongs in your School?

Vilifying and tolerating devices are virtually the same thing. They both essentially reject the notion that devices are real learning tools.  It's just that one is overt, and the other is covert.  Kids deserve an advantage in the workplace and using technology to learn is pretty much a requirement for most high paying jobs. Our kids will be interviewing for those jobs, and they won't be competitive if they don't learn the art of leveraging technology. That's not a problem that'll hold kids back in school, but it will be a problem for them in life. The choice is yours.  I hope you will make the best choice for kids and their future needs by incorporating the most powerful, yet underutilized, resources that have been sitting in America's classrooms each and everyday for the last 10+ years. 

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