Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Elementary Kiddos BYOD

I know that I am quite fortunate to work in technology rich situations.  I say fortunate because I know that is not the norm across the nation; even though it should be.  Through some maneuvering I have been able to create 1:1 classrooms.  One year I did this with the laptop cart.  Another year I did this with a combination of iPods from the iPod cart, purchasing my own iPods, and the kiddos bringing in their own iPods.  This year I have more of a 1:2 environment between my devices and the 3 desktops in the classroom.  However, some of the kiddos do have Kindles and/or tablets and they are allowed to bring those to school and use them.  

I know that from an infrastructure point of view someone like me may be a bit of a nightmare.  I know very little about WiFi, bandwidth, and the capability of a system to support a 1:1 environment.  With that aside, I have seen benefits of BYOD with elementary kiddos.When you have school or teacher purchased mobile devices, who is in control of the device?  The teacher.  In so many ways.  

For one it is up to us which apps get purchased.  While there are THOUSANDS of educational apps available, we sift through them to determine which ones will best suit the academic needs.  Sometimes our decisions are driven by financial needs.  I don't know about you, but I spend enough money on my personal apps.  I can't imagine how much money I'd spend if I was purchasing apps for the devices I use in the classroom.  So...when elementary kiddos can BYOD they are able to use the apps they've paid for and downloaded.  For example:
     a kiddo had Math Ninja downloaded on his device.  After showing it to me I could tell that not 
     only was this app meeting the academic need to building fact fluency, but he was highly engaged 
     when using it.  In addition to that he was getting his friends excited about using the app and they 
    were determined to download it on their device.  
This is an app I would not download because it costs money.  Yet, the students in my classroom were able to use it, enjoy, and learn from it.

When we are the ones in control of the devices, we are the ones determining how apps get organized.  This can make sense when using multiple devices in a classroom that will be getting used by anyone in the classroom.  It can make it easier for anyone to access the app quickly because the organization is the same.  Yet, the way one person's brain makes connections about how to group and sort is not necessarily how another person's would.  When elementary kiddos BYOD they are making those connections for themselves and organizing them in a way that makes sense for them.  
    Devices like Kindles, NOOKS, iPods, iPads, and tablets were designed as personal devices.  Their
    purpose was to ensure that people download what they want, when they want, for reasons of their 
    own. This also means determining which apps are most important to you, which can be grouped 
    together in a folder or a page of their own. 
We take that decision making, that power, away from kiddos when we disallow BYOD.

Yet, this is just for use inside the classroom.  The real power of encouraging elementary kiddos to BYOD is how it changes the way personal devices are used outside of the classroom.  They are using apps they are familiar with, like Talking Tom, to create teaching videos instead of just whacking Talking Tom around and giggling at his high-pitched voice.  They begin to use apps like DoodleBuddy for solving complex calculations instead of doodling.  Instead of using Twitter and Facebook for sending mindless updates they will begin to use them to seek answers to questions and share content.  Isn't this why we integrate tech into the classroom?