I’ve been reading a lot of material lately about Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) as though it’s the next big change in education to revolutionise learning. It seems the end of the Federal Government’s Digital Education Revolution Program in Australia has caused educators to rethink what types of devices will be suitable for school and how the implementation of BYOD will work. It seems incredulous that we should be reflecting on this issue in education as we’ve never considered BYO for many other resources that students brought to school in the past.
For me in a primary school context, BYOD is a seamless transition point in education with students taking ownership for bringing in devices to use at school. If a classroom teacher’s pedagogy and the overall school vision is about the incorporation of Information and Communication Technologies for learning, then students will be the greatest advocate for BYOD. If on the other hand, a classroom program does not have a pedagogical backbone as to how devices are used in learning programs, then the implementation of BYOD for learning will invariably shift more towards socialisation.
At Merrylands East Public School, many teachers are shifting towards genius hour and project base learning with the incorporation of devices to create and design. We started off with desktop computers and a few purchased NSW DER laptops. Students were given opportunities to explore and solve authentic problems in collaborative situations over the limited number of devices. Students would mull over the students who were creating with the limited devices and contribute to the task at hand, while at the same time lurk and learn from each other.
We also supported students by changing our school environment with a lot more agile and mobile areas for students to learn. Not every student needs to sit on a chair or at a desk at the same time, and not every student needs to be on a device at the same time. We still use pencils, pens and paper when the task is much easier to complete.
Over the past year, I have noticed that students have started to bring in their own device and connecting up to our school’s Wi-Fi without any major announcement or push by the school to do so. As a school, we’ve responded by permitting students to take their devices outside for use or securing them during our recess break. We’ve also responded by making sure that additional small sets of devices are available for class borrowing to complement the existing desktop computers so that students are not disadvantaged within the school.
However, with all transition processes, our school has experienced the occasional missing device but students often find and return them to their rightful owner. Again, there hasn’t been a huge fuss made over a lost device.
BYOD is not a major fuss for our school but a self-regulated process whereby students see a genuine learning need for the use of devices in learning programs. It is not a huge take up process at the moment, but slowly growing. I am sure that this means the process of BYOD will take longer but at the expense of knowing that whatever is brought to school and compatible with our Wi-Fi will be used in a meaningful context.