‘Knowing what to change comes before knowing how to change.” ~Andy Hargreaves~
Many of us have fond recollections of the tools we brought to school when we were young- binders, a pencil case filled with freshly sharpened Laurentian pencil crayons and, to mark our passage into adolescence; a shiny geometry set! Having the opportunity to personalize the tools we brought to school was (and is) important. Every August the aisles of local retailers are laden with backpacks, binders and booklets splattered with superheroes, sports logos and boy bands, all in the name of personalization.
The tools we use are important; in many ways they define the opportunities and outcomes that are possible; and this has never been more apparent than it is now. We carry in our pockets powerful tools that can, and will, lead to meaningful change in both opportunities and outcomes for all our students.
The short video by Cheryl Fiello is embedded in this post, not as an endorsement, but to open up the conversation we are having in some of our classrooms, with some of our students and our families. A conversation about tools.
BYOD is an acronym for Bring Your Own Device. The devices in this case being the smartphones, media players, tablets and laptops that belong to students and families. Most of you know that our school-based technology connects to our school wifi network. You may not know that students can also connect to our wifi network using their student login and password on their own devices.
A few of our classes have embarked upon a school-based pilot project this year to explore the BYOD process, gather information and provide feedback and guidance to the rest of our school community. We have tapped into the guidance and support of our district support staff as well as teachers in schools where BYOD projects are already in place. The guidance included practical tips like how to store the devices safely, when and where to use the devices and strategies for monitoring the safe and appropriate use of these devices by students.
Of course we are still gathering, still learning and still exploring- but the early consensus is positive from the staff and the students. The ways that we can connect, collaborate and communicate are vastly different from our days of pencil cases and geometry sets (even though we still use both). The range and power of the tools these students bring to school far outstrip those of the tools I brought, but at the core, the premise is the same; given the chance, we like to use our own tools.
Over the next few months we will need to carry on this conversation in preparation for the next stage in our BYOD process. Our plan to ensure equity of access, our strategies to manage student safety and the security of their devices and the impact this change will have on many of our well established school structures.
The change might be in our pockets, but it is no small sum.