My school district started a BYOT policy this year. At first everyone thought this meant that we were going to install Wifi and that everyone would have access immediately. Nothing could be further from the truth. Essentially, we just said that we are going to officially allow something that students have been doing for a while. Since it was official, that we could allow technology in our rooms, I decided to take advantage of this. For years I have told the students that use of certain types of technology were officially against the rules. At the same time the students were telling me that were using technology (camera and phones) in front of officials with no consequences. Apparently, I was the only one who read the rule book and I had the most to lose by following the rules.
My first trial was by allowing students to use Google Docs turn in an assignments in class. Only a few of the students experimented with this option. Instead they chose not to turn it in at all by not printing it out.
My second trial was to have the students do a exam review sheet collaboratively. I did this in class. This is usually something the students dread doing. I thought by adding the technology aspect that my student would participate more. It was kind of novelty approach, but I had the students log in from school laptops to work on this document together. I thought it was such a neat idea that I invited others to come watch the review and my success or failure live. I would like to say that everyone came to watch but instead no one even commented on the idea. I was hoping that the students would then in turn work on the notes outside of class and use them to study. I am happy to say that several of the students did just that.
I kicked it up a notch this semester by incorporating smart phones and devices into the mix. When I am teaching my students camera shots, I have them do a scavenger hunt by taking pictures around the school and putting them into a powerpoint. This project takes forever since I have only 5 still cameras so we do it 5 at a time. So this year I wrote new directions for this assignment that involved my students all taking pictures at the same time. I also created a Google doc that explained how to upload, rename and share the photos with me. By doing this assignment the BYOT way it would take less time. They could even turn in the assignment while riding on the bus to school. Then I took the students out of my classroom for 2 days to take the pictures. Not everyone had a device or turned in the BYOT paperwork for the assignment. Those students had to use my cameras. This is the only reason that it took 2 days to take the pictures. The assignment was due a couple weeks ago and I am in the process of grading them. Don’t judge, we had a lot of students out of class for sickness or other activities and I was waiting until most of them were turned in. The students who got the idea behind the assignment did great. I used these students to help the others turn in the assignment. It wasn’t that I hadn’t given them time to do the assignment, but they were having trouble using their smart device as tool and not a toy. Some of the students were missing part of the assignment and did not go back and do these outside of class. For instance, taking a picture of someone at their locker. This does not require me to take them on a special class trip because they see that several times a day. After speaking with these students they were really reluctant to try anything new on their device. Most had not downloaded the recommended app or viewed the directions online. They were comfortable posting pictures on Facebook, but not uploading the pictures to Google doc. These students are only going to go forward with technology when they see it socially beneficial. They were all very bright students but did not want to geek out.
Based on my last project, I don’t know that my students are ready for BYOT. I don’t mean it was not successful in my classroom. I believe that the students do not see the benefit of the technology that is sitting right in their own hands. They are too excited to be able to say I own an iPhone and buying a pretty case, but not in using them for anything else. I think it is was a lot more exciting to use them when they were hiding them underneath their desk to text their friends.
I spend a lot of time trying to teach people how to use their iPhone with my videos. I wish people would not purchase these devices, if they are not going to take the time learn how to use them. Why spend several hundred dollars on a device that does everything, if you are just going to use it for texting, tweeting and Facebooking. I am just mad I can’t do more with my technology.