What are the top 10 concerns for teachers starting a BYOD classroom?

My first workshop this August was with a school that is in the process of starting a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) network. Starting this fall, students in this particular school will be allowed to use their own mobile devices during class. As you can imagine, this will be a big change for both the staff and students. To help with the transition, I was asked to provide the teaching staff with a few straightforward strategies and tools for managing a BYOD classroom. Here are the key points that came out of our two group discussions:

1) How will the students know what is acceptable use in my classroom?

In order to establish a consistent set of guidelines between classes, the school’s administration created a school-wide Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) that every student is asked to sign on the first day of classes. In a nutshell, the AUP outlines what is expected from the students and the repercussions for breaking the rules.

2) Won’t the students use their devices while I’m teaching?

In this particular school, each teacher receives a laminated green and red “traffic signal” card, as seen in this poster. If the red card is tacked up on the wall, student devices are forbidden and should not be on the desks. If the green card is up, the students are free to use their devices.

3) How do teachers keep up with all the latest apps? There’s too much!

You don’t have to! In my opinion, one of the best ways for students to take advantage of BYOD is to allow them to use their devices as individualized learning tools, when needed. In other words, give them a little guidance but let them choose how and when they’d like to use it. It’s their device! Students may want to use their device to look up the spelling of a word, Google a fact, calculate something, watch a helpful video with headphones, take notes, or snap a picture of the blackboard.

4) What happens if students have different brands of devices? How do I plan accordingly?

If you don’t plan “one-size-fits-all” activities around a particular app, then it doesn’t matter what brand of device the student owns. The student uses their respective tools in a way that best suits them. (When appropriate, of course!)

5) What happens if a student’s device isn’t working?

This may sound harsh but.. too bad! I can tell you from experience that there’s nothing more frustrating than helping a student with a technical problem while the rest of the class is waiting. To help address this issue, some schools encourage student-run committees for helping other students with technical problems. Teachers focus on the pedagogy, students take care of the technology.

6) What happens if a student uses their own data plan at school?

While I think students should be allowed to use their own data plan at school (due to a slow school network, etc..) the teacher should be very careful not to specifically ask a student to use their personal data plan for school related work. You don’t want to be responsible for their cell phone bills!

7) Should students be allowed to record my lectures?

Both groups of teachers felt that allowing students to record their lectures would make them uncomfortable. That being said, most of us agreed that video recordings could work well if the teacher designated certain times where it was OK. For example, a language teacher doing a set of pronunciations or if a math teacher solving a tricky problem on the board.

8) Where do we go to learn more about teaching Digital Citizenship?

If you’d like to know more about teaching Digital Citizenship (critical thinking, search strategies, responsible use, copyrights) the Lester B. Pearson School Board has a great site worth checking out. If you’re not sure where you could fit this (in your already packed curriculum!) perhaps you could teach Digital Citizenship concepts in the context of a Learning Situation.

9) What are some subject specific tools I could suggest to students?

Need to suggest some subject specific tools or apps? I’ve written past articles on Desmos, Khan Academy and Wolfram Alpha for math students. English teachers might want to read my post on Rewordify to help language students who struggle with decoding sentences with complex vocabulary.  Teachers interested in student response systems (i.e. polling students in the class) may want to read my article about Socrative.

10) I need more resources on BYOD!

I maintain a BYOD Pinterest board that I’ll continue updating throughout the school year. If you’d like to know more about what was covered in these two workshops, please refer to my latest BYOD presentation.

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