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A few Do’s and Don’ts for your school’s BYOD

For all the technological changes within schools in recent years, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is arguably having the biggest pedagogical impact. Here Martin Hughes explores some of the issues to consider.

BYODMany schools have a blend of school-owned and student-owned devices. Some have a ‘managed choice’ approach, where options are constrained for consistency/management, while others have a ‘bring anything’ approach. Regardless of approach, however, the core business remains teaching and learning.

One of the things I love about my role is working with schools to align strategic direction with the power of technology, to significantly impact learning outcomes for everyone. Much of the significant progress schools have made in recent years has been due to the innovation, hard work and willingness to share of an increasing number of our teachers. Many of the successful strategies are largely free and are dependent on people, planning and policies, not on buying more/better devices.

Here I’d like to highlight some of these strategies, so that we can all continue to learn from the success of others.

Do’s: Identifying some strategies that work

  1. Leaders who lead by example – I see the greatest success in schools where leaders embrace and use ICT effectively and creatively for the betterment of the whole school.
  2. ICT is used to support and enhance other professional learning programmes within the school.
  3. Teachers first, technology last – all teachers must be comfortable and confident with using technology, before engaging with BYOD.
  4. Well structured, differentiated, scaffolded learning experiences for students and teachers that include feedback.
  5. Less is more – less screen time and fewer, better apps.
  6. Easy access to fast, reliable, and stable Wi-Fi.
  7. Consistent and empathetic student usernames and passwords.
  8. Consistent user experience, regardless of location, OS or device.
  9. Consistent vocabulary and strategies across the school, such as SAMR model, and school inquiry model.
  10. Specific descriptors of what success does and doesn’t look like.
  11. Learner-driven decision making
  12. Technology encouraging the ‘best’ behaviours – it’s so much easier to focus on human behaviours rather than results, which can be vague and hard to quantify.
  13. An inclusive approach, so that support staff, BoT members and parents develop their understanding of how best to use ICT.

Don’ts: Avoiding strategies that don’t work

  1. Too many options around tools, devices, apps, storage locations, passwords, emails, document formats, resources, etc.
  2. Inconsistent look and feel between devices and locations, leading to low expectations of teachers, students and devices.
  3. Open-ended, research-based tasks with minimal structure and, therefore, low expectations.
  4. Technology-driven decision making.
  5. Technology encouraging the worst behaviours.
  6. ‘Trickle down’ professional learning – when the wisdom and experience of the more confident teacher is expected to magically migrate throughout the staffroom. Plus, the belief that ‘kids will teach the teachers’.

Bringing your own device … or distraction?

Can you quickly and easily tell the difference? Three questions that might help:

  • Teacher: Are you substituting or redefining the task? (SAMR model)
  • Teacher: Where in this learning experience are you differentiating, feeding back/forward and scaffolding the tasks?
  • Student: Why are you using a device? What are you learning? Why are you learning it? How will you know when you have learnt it?

“If you keep on doing what you’ve always done you’ll keep on getting what you’ve always got”, so the saying goes.

This used to be true when we lived in linear times. However, we’re now living very much in exponential times. If we keep on doing what we’ve always done, we will actually get worse results than before, because the divergence between how we’re working in schools and how the world is continuing to change exponentially, is rapidly increasing.

Term 4 is arguably the best time to be reflecting on strategies that have worked and on those that might need further development. Feel free to use the review tools (3ml.nz/school-review-tools/) to scope out where your school currently sits and from there look at how you can create strategies that are meaningful, memorable and motivating for all of your learners.  

Martin Hughes from 3M Learning delivers professional learning experiences that are meaningful, memorable and motivating. Contact martin@3ml.nz

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