This morning, I had an energetic conversation about the hows, whys, and wherefores of allowing students to bring their own technology devices (BYOD) to school with a local colleague. We were both preachin’ to the choir, but this conversation has to begin somewhere.
As budgets are cut and technology improves, it only makes sense that we figure out way to allow students to bring the amazing machines they carry in their pockets to school and to leverage them for learning.
“We have to start thinking of these devices like pencils,” my colleague said. “Some kids have their own pencils, and we encourage them to bring them to school.”
Loving this analogy, I interjected, “Some kids have fancier pencils than others, too. We don’t limit how fancy their pencils can be.”
He added, “Yes, and by allowing students to bring their own pencils, we free up school resources. We can provide pencils to those who don’t have their own, but we don’t have to provide pencils for everyone.”
Speaking of pencils, I’d like for you to close your eyes (figuratively speaking). Imagine this scene: you’ve just learned that your bank made several errors on your account. They deducted funds that shouldn’t have been deducted and your automatic deposit didn’t post. Just yesterday, expecting that deposit and other funds to be available, you mailed your mortgage check and a few other bills. Feeling a bit panicked, you need to do some math to make sure that your checks won’t bounce. If they do, you’ll receive charges from the companies to which you sent payments. This could be a major problem! This could get ugly! Looking around, you find no paper, no pencil, no pen, no calculator. You’re beginning to feel sick with worry. You’re agitated, maybe even feeling a bit desperate. Can you feel it?
Imagine that you’re asked to spend seven hours a day feeling like this: agitated, disconnected, worried you’ll miss something important, unable to find the information you need. The tool that you turn to isn’t available. Actually it IS available, but you aren’t allowed use it. (In fact, imagine that as part of the above scene – there IS a pencil, but you can’t access it. It’s on the other side of a glass wall. You can see it, but not use it.) Would you put yourself in that position day in and day out, willingly? Probably not.
While it’s true that this paradigm shift will have to occur eventually (like it or not), it cannot and will not happen without some important discussion and policy decisions being made. The original context of the phone conversation this morning was to discuss the potential of bringing our area Tech Directors and administrators together to begin this discussion.
- How do we allow video conferencing and maintain CIPA compliance?
- How do we allow students to BYOD and protect our networks and data centers?
- Are there schools doing these things? How are they managing their systems?
- What are the liabilities of banning devices (and not enforcing the policy equitably and ubiquitously)?
- What are the liabilities of allowing student devices?
- How do we provide adequate professional development so that the teachers can leverage the use of the tools effectively?
To that end, my plan is to host a brown bag summit of technology peeps from the area to open the discussion and share knowledge. Perhaps we’ll read some articles … perhaps we’ll generate a list of questions that need to be answered … perhaps we’ll hear live (via video conferencing that is not allowed in many schools) from principals and superintendents and tech directors who are successfully complying with all federal and state regulations AND allowing seamless integration of technology.
And so, I’d like to tap into the collective brain of our community. Do you have a particular concern about allowing personal student devices? Does your school allow it … and what have been your experiences? Do you know an administrator or tech director who is successfully leveraging mobile learning and personal devices? How have your AUP and policies changed to allow for BYOD? Have you read any great articles that you will share? Please respond to the survey to help guide our discussion.
Author: April Weston, AZ DEN LC