Sean describes the strategies, challenges and successes of running a Bring Your Own Technology classroom.
Sean Robinson has been trying a BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology) with his class at Citadel middle. The idea is that students use their own familiar devices to accomplish school tasks. They have iPhones, iPod Touches, iPads, an Android tablet, and a Surface Pro. Sean is able to use a few iPads available at Citadel for students who do not bring their own devices.
With his multiplatform class, he will give students an assignment, such as create a mind map using an app of their choice. The assignment becomes multidimensional as students look for apps for their particular device that might be able to do the task, evaluate and choose an app, and then carry out the task showing their understanding of the content or concept.
Sean will often use a video adapter to show the chosen apps from the class’s handhelds on the projector. He wants students to use their devices in ways that enable their learning. Sharing apps creates this seamless flow of learning where students can teach each other, and justify or be critical of the choices they make.
Here are some of ways, Sean is using handheld devices in his classroom.
- creating quick video segments
- taking and editing pictures
- taking notes
- managing schedules
- reading ebooks
- using QR codes
- holding online discussions
- and of course...web browsing
Sean showed me the way he uses online discussions using todaysmeet to enhance learning. Using a QR code, students log on and can carry an online backchat. So while Sean is doing a lesson, he also projects on the screen the feed of the backchannel that is happening while students talk about what they are learning. This affords a lot of positive learning features:
- Sean can see what his students are talking about.
- Shy kids can still participate without having to talk in front of the whole class.
- Impatient kids can ask questions and make comments without having to raise their hands and get picked.
- Sean can also look back after class and see patterns of participation.
Sean has been investigating using handheld devices in education for over a decade, dating back to his Handspring. He is happy that the technology is in a place where it can work more seamlessly in a classroom environment.
Sean admits there have been lots of hurdles and challenges to running a multiplatform BYOT classroom [from his blog]:
BYOT is not all pretty. You'll be inputting wifi passwords, answering endless questions about apps you've never used, and giving students a little more ability to be out of your control. A realistic view of what is coming your way is paramount. And if you really believe in what you are doing, you'll be able to work through the difficulties.
One of the fears of running a BYOT classroom is the online distractions. Sean was worried about them, but is surprised that they have not really been part of his experience. As he wanders around looking over his students’ shoulders, he has not seen a lot of off-task activity using the handhelds. The students seem really engaged in what they are doing. Perhaps it is because Sean includes his students in on the journey and the process.
Both his students and Sean love the fact the learning is reciprocal: the students and the teacher are learning alongside and from each other. Sean has learned from his students about sites and apps he had never heard of before. (“They have so much to teach me,” he says). And he provides his students with rich learning opportunities as he guides them through the process.
For more information, contact Sean at email@example.com
or visit his blog at http://seanrtech.blogspot.ca