Making A Case For BYOD (Faculty Perspectives)

As students prepare to compete for jobs in a 21st century global workforce that is both interdependent and ever-changing, the reality is that too many high schools across the nation are still working within models that emphasize the skills needed for a wonderful job in the year 1985. While the CCSS goal of “college and career readiness” for all students is certainly worthwhile and a step in the right direction, the truth is that teachers everywhere are already scrambling to determine what will be on “the tests” and are adjusting and modifying their curriculum and instruction as necessary. In that respect, we have much of the same. Sure, the standards are different and so too are the tests, but in the end we are left with more test prep, higher levels of anxiety for all involved, and the potential for a new way to narrowly approach teaching and learning.

It is perhaps for this reason above all else that I find myself excited about co-moderating this week’s #Satchat on BYOD with @careim2. While I by no means consider myself to be a “tech expert,” I have the benefit of serving as the Head of an IB World School in a forward-thinking district (@yolebrady) that is dedicated to leveraging all resources so that students are best prepared for the realities of the world that they will soon enter. This not only includes a robust curriculum that is rooted in inquiry-based experiences, problem solving, and critical thinking, but also the responsible use of technology as a vehicle for supporting and enhancing learning across the disciplines for all students.

A few months back I wrote a post on BYOD in response to a question that I received about whether high school students possessed the maturity to appropriately and responsibly use personal devices in their classes and throughout the school day. Since that time, our school has continued to transition to an environment that supports BYOD while simultaneously piloting a 1:1 Chromebook initiative for our 9th grade students. Though still in the early stages, we have already noted a number of benefits to both approaches along with a number of “shared” benefits for choosing either.

In preparation for this Saturday’s #Satchat session, I engaged some of the members of the DFHS faculty in a “mock” Tweetchat (#DFHS2014) on the topic of BYOD, its benefits, and the potential obstacles that teachers might encounter. In doing so, I previewed some of the types of questions that will be asked on Saturday while getting a sense of our teachers’ thoughts on the topic.

Here are the top three takeaways from our chat…

1) Maximizing Resources (@SBuschi): In even the most disadvantaged of districts, there is a population of students who come to school each day with Smartphones that are more powerful than many of the desktops that fill our classrooms. Despite this obvious wealth of resources, too many schools (and all schools in NYC) continue to enforce traditional policies that support “cell free zones” and continue to both discipline students and confiscate devices if they are simply taken out. Instead of this approach, imagine if schools allowed students who have personal devices to use them while providing school-issued devices to students who do not. This simple approach would not only help to put technology into the hands of more students on a more consistent basis, but would also help to offset some of the financial constraints and limitations that are faced by many schools.

2) Digital Citizenship (MicheleIrinve1): Regardless of the path that students ultimately pursue upon graduating from high school, one certainty is that they will have unlimited access to phones, tablets, computers, and whatever new device is on the market at the time. The opportunities for distraction are unlimited. Given that, schools can choose to either run from this reality by eliminating the use of personal devices or they can step up to the challenge, realize that the pros outweigh the cons (by far), and commit to teaching responsible and appropriate use to all students so that they are best prepared for college, the workforce, and beyond.

3) 21st Century Learning (ms_sardinia): When discussing what we value at DFHS, we use words like independence, interdependence, adaptability, application, critical thinking, and communication. These are the skills of the 21st century and must be at the heart of all aspects of teaching and learning. While educational technology certainly plays a key role in the development of these skills, it is never the “end game” or the desired result (think UBD). Instead, technology further enhances student learning while allowing teachers to further engage, assess, and differentiate so that all students can further attain these all important skills. Therefore, getting devices in the hands of as many students is more critical than ever. BYOD is an easy way to make that happen.

For more insight on the topic, please join us this Saturday morning at 7:30 EST for #Satchat.

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