Last year HNS started down the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) path with my beloved room 1 and the neighbouring room 2 trialling this strategy. Both f us teachers love technology and were looking to integrate it into our programmes more regularly and believed it would be beneficial for our teaching and learning outcomes. Next term we're planning to present some of our work and its effect on engagement at a WAPA e-learning strand but I feel the need to share my own personal journey for the benefit of other schools and teachers who are thinking about adopting a BYOD policy. We are now looking at moving BYOD into other classes and, naturally, there is apprehension among some of our teachers which is another reason for me to share some of this journey.
Before we first started last year we conducted some questioning of our children, what devices did they own (tablets, phones, laptops) and what platforms were they using (Android vs Apple being our main concern). Initially, we started pretty slowly but this year both classes have steadily had increases in the number of children using BYOD and naturally this has affected both the classroom management aspects as well as the pedagogy.
Currently I have 14 of my 28 children signed up to a BYOD agreement, this agreement outlines proper use and the responsibilities of all people involved. Not all children bring their devices every day nor do they get to use their devices for everything, that is still at my discretion.
I always try to avoid telling the children which Apps they use to do their work but Pic Collage is a firm favourite, while Book Creator and Flipagram are getting more use. Dropbox is an absolute must, while we get some use from Socrative also. The children have a range of different apps on their devices and I have had to exercise some restraint as I don't want anybody feeling pressured into purchasing particular apps.
We have slowly been working on creating our own HNS App chart but it is definitely a work in progress. There are a number of Apps that I feel the children could be working with successfully such as Explain Everything, other digital writing tools or even things such as Sock Puppets or Puppet Pals but the cost of them has been put a dampener on recommendations, hence the emphasis on the free side.
My biggest problem has been trying to navigate my way through the Android store to find equivalent apps as I am far more familiar with those available in iTunes.
When we started out the children weren't too sure about what to do, what to use or what to do when they're finished. Layering of Apps still isn't a regular occurrence but I'm hoping that this will improve as the year continues and the the children become more confident in their ability. My BYOD regulars are now more self-managed when it comes to full BYOD tasks, with an understanding that the work needs to be shared or published at least to their teacher. We have set up a shared BYOD folder that we use for issuing tasks/instructions and each student has an individual shared folder with me to upload their work or for any individual tasks they are given. Twitter regularly gets used to share their work also. We ought to be publishing work straight to our class/individual blogs also but I think that will be the next step.
Reflection still hasn't become a regular part of their learning which is something I need to push more in the future. A simple exit task is easily managed through Socrative, Google Forms or Exit Ticket.
Thankfully, the journey to 14 students has been gradual! It has definitely been some trial and error and I have found that it has had an impact on my instructions. I need to be far clearer about my expectations, the success criteria and the time expected to be used. Dropbox has assisted in this greatly, as I am learning to make instructions/tasks available electronically.
Naturally, the introduction of more browsers and publishing tools has had a positive impact on some disruptive behaviour. There are more ICT resources to share, therefore less frustration as we're not waiting as long to publish our work or do the research to create work. This also has an impact on differentiation, it is now relatively easier to give students tasks that suit their personality and learning needs/style.
Where to next:
I know I don't have BYOD working perfectly in my class, sometimes I still ask/invite them to do something off the cuff. But there are far more BYOD notes in my planning, more kids asking for agreements to take to their parents and more kids clamouring to show what they've just created.
Time to do set up another task for my kids...