Monday, August 15, 2011

BYOD - Getting on the Same Page

BYOD is a paradigm shift of astronomical proportions. Well, maybe not that big, but in education it's big enough to effect more than I ever anticipated. One of the biggest changes that poses perhaps the highest hurdle on the course is that of getting all the teachers on one campus to get on board and fall in line.

Although our district policy is very well written and clearly defines student expectations and rules, each campus must take time to communicate the policy with it's teachers. For 10 years or more schools have been dealing with the intrusion of mobile devices by banning them which, for students, translates into 'hiding them.' Teachers have been, therefore, conditioned to taking them away from the students on every occasion possible. Some schools even hold the phones and wait for parents to come in and pay the ransom just to get the phone back from the school. Policy is fine and dandy, but ultimately how it's interpreted in the classroom as it relates to very specific problems is a task that must be proactively lead by the campus administrators.

So how do we break teachers of the knee jerk reaction, taking away the device if it is seen or heard? How do we help teachers and students understand that if you take away the device, for many of us we will be taking away our notes, calendars, textbooks, projects, dictionary, encyclopedia and more? How do we get to the point where we accept that these devices, just as it is with paper and pencil, will not always be on task? Perhaps most important, how do we get all teachers to allow students to learn in their own natural and comfortable manner?

Throughout the ages stones have been used for both building edifices as well as tearing them down. Every tool can be used to be productive or destructive, but if our children never get the chance to learn how to be productive with these tools they are likely to default to the easier and more menacing and destructive uses of today's technology.