“Bring Your Own Device” Seminar

On Monday evening we headed off to the Torque IP BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) seminar in Penrose. I must admit that when we arrived, it looked like we were about to be sold timeshare, but it was a really valuable experience which, I think, is worthwhile sharing – especially given all the media attention this has been receiving of late.

The seminar began with the usual spiel that we’ve heard a fair few times before now, on the way in which the world surrounding schools is changing ever so fast, and we are stuck teaching children using the same old English industrialisation era  schooling ideals. Preaching to the converted! However, if you haven’t listened to one of these talks so prevalent at ICT conferences, here’s a couple of points mentioned at the seminar, that may interest you:

  • Apparently children learn 9 times faster when the learning is presented visually.
  • Schools are really much the same as they were 120 years ago, despite the new technology. Much of the teaching we do uses all this new technology, but presents ideas for students much the same way as we always have (e.g. projecting up a typed class discussion as opposed to writing ideas on the board). Does this really improve student outcomes?
  • Students don’t learn the same way we do. They learn best hands on, by experimenting, by connecting and collaborating, and by trial and error.
  • Therefore 21st Century learning should be connected, student centred, interactive, mobile, anytime/anywhere. The students need to be taught new skills – how to find accurate information, how to organise content, how to manage their privacy and their identity online and so on. We also need to ensure we have effective physical and virtual learning spaces to cater for our student’s needs.

Following this, Sam Gliksman went on to outline the positives and negatives of a BYOD scheme in schools. On the plus side, he said:

  • Learning can truly be anytime/anywhere
  • The computers themselves are parent funded
  • Often parent provided laptops will be more up to date than the ones schools can afford
  • They are able to be personalised by the students
  • Students, he said, would be more engaged and motivated
  • Computers would be better looked after, since they were the student’s own
  • This is more cost-effective for schools in that the repair and maintenance costs, as well as server costs would be reduced.

Sam also mentioned that many students (of course depending on the community) already had their own devices but they were banned at school. In this case students would use them anyway, so the ideal would be to refrain from banning them and, instead, aim for effective use of these devises in schools. However there are, of course, negatives to a BYOD program and these are the ones mentioned by Sam:

  • You can end up with a ‘haves and have nots’ situation. So you need to scope the community well prior to instigating this and, since you have lower ICT costs at school, the extra money could be used to create a pool of devices for children to use.
  • You have less control over the student’s use of the devices.

Sam, along with a representative from Orewa College, went on to discuss the ins and outs of actually implementing such a program which is probably beyond the interests of the readers of this blog so I shan’t bore you! However, an interesting point came up. apparently at Orewa College, before they brought in the BYOD program, a few classes were given the option to B(their)OD should they want to. The response to this was minimal as parents were unwilling to send devices to school if the teaching failed to change to accommodate these devices. Food for thought if a school goes down this road – is the pedagogy/elearning capabilities of the teaching staff up to this?


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