It is fairly difficult to ignore the importance of technology in education these days. As well as enhancing the learning experience, the development of technology related skills and knowledge is now essential for learners. In Australia, the importance placed on developing these skills resulted in the Digital Technologies subject being added to our national curriculum.
But how do schools deliver technology enriched learning to students? Trolleys of shared devices can only get the quality of the experience so far and are a nightmare to manage. A fully immersive experience ideally requires students to work with their own device. 1:1 student to device ratios are the dream but hard to achieve for many schools.
Enter the BYOD solution....Bring Your Own Device! Seems ideal....right? And it does have the potential to be - but there is a reason I jokingly refer to it as Bring Your Own Disaster.....
Change doesn't happen overnight.....and change with technology takes more time than most things. While I look back at how far the school has come, it has taken a number of years to get there.
A bit of history...
2018 is my fourth year in a technology leadership role at my school. In that time I have overseen the expansion of the BYOD program from Year 6 down to Year 3. Up until this year, iPads were the required device in our BYOD classrooms. In 2018, as the program expanded down into Year 3, the decision was made to switch to a full Windows device with the aim of eventually phasing out our student iPads. There were several reasons behind the switch and this is certainly not a blog comparing the pros and cons of different devices. Despite the migration to Windows devices for student use, iPads will continue to have a presence on the Primary Campus and in our Maker Space.
Weighing it up
So, having just this year launched BYOD in Year 3 and after my experiences with it over the last few years, what are my thoughts?
The BYOD solution to school 1:1 technology implementation is a totally viable option, but it comes with a cost to all involved. Families have to shoulder the cost. This can be a very big ask, especially for families with more than 1 student at a school. Schools need to amp up their training and tech support to keep it afloat. It takes a lot of time and manpower (or in my case, womanpower) to get everything running smoothly. Teachers also have the added pressures of troubleshooting technology and integrating it effectively into their practice.
Can it be done? Yes, it can. I don't think I have it perfect by a long shot, but compared to a couple years ago, I am actually pretty proud of our progress. For those thinking of taking steps towards BYOD:
Read all about my thoughts on teaching in the 21st Century, my experiences with technology in the classroom, running a Maker Space, launching STEAM and Design Thinking with students, coding, robotics and much more!
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