What do students think?

(Last Updated On: March 17, 2015)

Two years ago Carmel College made the decision to implement BYOD. Teacher Felicity Timings was asked to evaluate the impact of the programme among 540 Year 7 to 10 students. Here’s a summary of her results.

It was decided to interview students in two stages, qualitative research, in the form of group discussions, followed up with a quantitative online survey.

Two group discussions were held, each with 10 students, in order to learn about their issues with using devices, which could be investigated further in the quantitative stage. These discussions were held only with Year 7 and 8 students. The second, quantitative stage was a questionnaire administered via Survey Monkey to every Year 7 to 10 student (who was at school on the day chosen for surveying their class).

Research findings

Year 7 discussion: After 10 months, they were enjoying their use and the novelty of communicating with friends in a new way. They were experimenting with social media. Some appeared to be aware of the pitfalls. Home use was often monitored by their parents. School use varied between classes. The girls were aware of possible temptations, and some would like to use them more than they did. They gave the impression of children with a new toy.

Year 8 discussion: One year on, the girls were mainly using their devices during classes for research purposes and for writing. They were able to express many advantages to this. Home use is not so much for homework but for social reasons. While the girls said they preferred BYOD, some reported feeling overwhelmed by feelings of addiction and anxieties about social interaction. Social media was frequented, personal interactions were reduced, and some related feelings of social isolation. Parents seemed less involved in restricting device use. This group was torn between their love of their devices, their awareness of BYOD advantages and feelings of addiction and social isolation. There appeared to be a need for education on Digital Citizenship here.

Carmel_use-deviceSummary of census:

  • Devices were mainly used in class for research purposes.
  • There were significant learning advantages with BYODs but there were also issues with handwriting preference, alienation, and distraction.
  • A third of students spent class time messaging and using social media.
  • Students calculated that they spent more class time on devices than teachers were aware of.
  • Two-thirds of students used devices during break times. Social media use was high, particularly among Year 9 students.
  • 31 per cent have had some sort of device breakage.
  • Home behaviour has changed for 73 per cent of students since they got their devices. They used social media more and spent more time in their bedrooms.
  • Most Year 7 and 8 students had home rules for device use but this dropped to about half for Year 9 and 10 students.

Overall results with BYOD

The analysis shows that the most important driver of happiness is that students are more interested in their learning now. But the second most important influence is that students learn better when they write by hand. Not having so many textbooks and the internet’s superiority over a library are the next most important drivers. These are followed by the statement that students are lonely when everyone is using their devices. Class websites and ease of research follow, but closely behind is the impact of distraction.

This, therefore, gives us the good points and the bad points. The good ones are the learning advantages that the school was hoping to achieve by introducing BYOD. The bad points are all the things that happened along the way, and which have come up in all stages of this research: handwriting preference, alienation and distraction.  



Some recommendations from the research

Choice of Device – it was clear throughout the research that iPads are too ‘cool’ and, as a result, there are problems with addiction. iMessaging is also too easy. Students are less likely to use Snapchat and to take photos as much with a laptop/notebook. Furthermore, they don’t function well when collaborating with Google Docs and don’t support Flash.

Monitoring Students – teachers need to address the problem of distraction during lessons by monitoring students effectively.

Social Media – if possible, sites like Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr should not be accessible at school.

Digital Citizenship – this must be taught at all levels of the school. Students must be encouraged to have a balance between life and using devices and be taught how to research online. Cyberbullying also needs to be addressed.

Home Use – parents need advice on how to help their children achieve a better life balance at home. This should not just happen once, at the start of Year 7, but throughout all year groups.

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