My first experiences with bring your own technology

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.

photo 1 photo 3 photo 4

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.


7 thoughts on “My first experiences with bring your own technology

  1. I have experienced similar reluctance from some students, but not all. It seems to be a huge learning curve for them as well, engaging with their device as an educational tool rather than simply as a gaming or social media device. I have found the blog to be particularly challenging in the past; the kids were using it as a digital bulletin board rather than an opportunity to engage each other or collaborate. This semester I feel like I’ve gotten a bit of a break. There are a number of high achievers in the one class, and they are leading by example…and I told them the only way to level 4 is to interact with other bloggers’ comments. One online activity they all seem to love is questions set up through The real time bar graphing of results seems to be a real hit, and formative perfect for me. Baby steps.

    1. Baby steps, I have to keep reminding myself that. I have been doing video production for so long that the technology has changed quite a bit. It is so much easier to do some things now. I often forget my students never did it the hard way so the new way is hard to them.

  2. I really appreciate your candor. I don’t think your experience is unusual. The “digital native” is very good at consuming content with their phones, but need support to go further and create content. I predict future epsiodes of your Youtube series that will show how easy it is to use Web 2.0 tools with a smartphone!

    1. It is good to hear that. I have really spent some time explaining to my “digital natives” how to use their own technology. For my videos, I am working with a couple other people to craft these videos. They are the digital natives and I am the older Yoda figure in comparison. As we create the videos, we all are learning from each other but it is mostly me. This happens as we are writing the scripts. Sometimes I am like ” I have never done this before show me so we can explain it better. “

  3. Hi Chris,
    I think as Colinda and Susan have both observed, BYOT isn’t likely to have an immediate transformative impact and we have to sign up for the long haul I’d argue. Putting learning in the hands our students (quite literally) requires a massive cultural shift from the passive “Tell me what to do and I’ll do it,” to an active “I’m the one responsible for figuring this out for myself/We’ve got to figure this out together.”

    Another issue might be the degree to which students are exposed to learning in this way elsewhere around school. If you’re the only one breaking new ground, then it’s going to be tougher for sure. Are there any colleagues with whom you might be able to form a coalition? Is it possible to share your successes (and challenges!) with a few like-minded people with a view to them undertaking similar activities? The greater the level of exposure your students have to working this way, the more comfortable they’ll become and successful outcomes will become more likely.

    The break Susan got with her high achievers perhaps hints at an area to exploit. It might or might not be high achievers, but maybe you have some students who have facility in working this way? Would it be possible to celebrate what they do or for them to to be given some sort of leadership role here?

    1. Hi Ian

      I will be trying again soon enough. I have so many students these days, it is hard to get everything done without the use of technology. It wasn’t until I wrote a paper last semester that I realized why I was having such difficulty. I changed jobs a few years back. Although I still teach the same thing, I changed from 48 students a day to 148 in just a few years. This was due to changes in scheduling and increased class size. I could do a lot more when I had fewer students. I have had to change the methods I use in teaching my class. I was just hoping for a more manageable load with technology.

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