Friday, August 19, 2011

BYOD - A Student Encounter

Today I made it to one of my campuses just in time to grab a sandwich from the PTA. After being bombarded by questions (school starts in 72 hours & it's crunch time), from various faculty that were awaiting my return to that campus, I was left alone to eat in the cafeteria.

About that time, a student who had come to help her mom with the PTA lunch for teachers, asked if she could eat her lunch at the table with me. This is a very polite young lady that I can remember helping throughout last school year, but can't for the life of me remember her name. After a few superficial conversation exchanges I decided to ask her about her plans for the new BYOD policy.

I asked her if she was excited to be able to bring her own tech devices. She responded in the affirmative although it seemed that she was holding her excitement from me in an effort to be polite and mature for her age.

I inquired about which devices she was planning on bringing. She said she was planning on bringing her phone (iPhone) and probably a laptop. I asked what kind of laptop she had but she didn't know the brand, just that it was a Windows machine.

Her next statement, however, was a little unexpected. She asked me if I thought the wifi would have enough speed to handle everyone's devices. Man! isn't that the question that this whole idea relies upon. Honestly, I don't know, but I have trust that our network guys have planned and worked as hard as they have in order that it will work.

At the end of our conversation I was getting ready to leave when she asked if she could introduce me to her mom. Her mother asked what we had been talking about. I told her that we had been discussing the BYOD policy for this next year. Interestingly, she wasn't as aware of the policy as I had expected most parents would be. She asked me what it was all about and I gave her the quick 30 second general scheme of things. I also explained how our Google Apps would help the new policy by giving the students even more tools to help them stay organized and communicate with their peers and teachers. She was ecstatic and told me what a wonderful idea that was for the district to pursue. She was so excited that she asked me what device would be best for her daughter to bring with her to class.

What a fantastic question! So good, in fact, that I didn't have a decent answer. How pathetic am I? I live and breathe tech blogs, news and reviews. I love knowing what the critics say about each new gadget and gizmo that is released. But I can't answer this mother that is requesting my meager advice about which tool would be best for her daughter to have. I guess coming from my background where every penny is pinched and saved, I have to say that the laptop is still king for a student. Especially now that there are so many good options like a Chromebook, netbooks, and now ultra-portables. But, there aren't many bad choices. This new age of mobile computing is exactly what education has been needing for many years now.

OK, back on track...After knowing about the BYOD policy for 2 minutes, this mother was ready to buy her daughter whatever would be best to help her in school. I think most parents, if they realized how effective and useful these devices can be in the classroom, would buy some type of device for their own children. The classroom is a great place for students to learn how to use and communicate with the tools of our day.

Lesson learned today...Students and parents are just as eager to try a BYOD as teachers and administrators...Actually, more so.