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BYOD

I remember vividly the joy and excitement of rolling out one of the first large scale 1 to 1 programs using tablets in our region of the country. We had spent two years planning, piloting, researching, holding public forums, and building a general excitement around the “roll out”. We challenged teachers to change the way they think about content delivery and assessment, teaching them the skills needed to give students 24/7 access to content by leveraging our LMS and creating a hybrid “flipped” classroom. We used the implementation as a change agent to reassess how teaching and learning were occurring in our classrooms.

Today we work with 1 to 1 and BYOD programs across the country and have found that they are all unique in their organization, execution, and measures of success. However, I have noticed a growing trend of schools claiming that they have a BYOD initiative, but upon further examination – they aren’t really a program at all. The school has just made the technological leap to compete with McDonalds, Starbucks, and your local hotel, in allowing students to connect their devices to the network.

Allowing internet access for students is a huge step forward from the not-so-distant past when schools banished electronics to the lockers and mobile phones in the possession of a minor were treated similarly to possession of an illegal substance. I know first-hand….I used to dole out the punishments. Those experiences were part of the accelerant that propelled me to drive change in organizations. Updating infrastructure and working with your stakeholders to get internet access for students approved is the first hurdle to rolling out a digital learning initiative, but in isolation it is not really a program at all.

What separates your BYOD program from McDonalds? Is your program lacking the traction it needs to make a difference in the classroom? Are you nearing the launch of your own program? Consider these three steps to build momentum and reach the educational goals you set out to achieve. (You did set goals up front didn’t you….we’ll leave that topic for another day!)
1. Make your BYOD Program launch a big deal!
If you look at successful 1 to 1 and BYOD programs around the country, they almost always make a big splash in their community with the launch of the program. The excitement and momentum that you can build are crucial to sustainability. Whether or not a school system encourages students to bring their devices is one of the key differences between having a program and/or just allowing internet access.
• Give your digital learning initiative a name. (i.e. Project X, Operation Y, School Name NxGL, etc.)
• Promote the launch of your program and encourage students to bring their devices
• Involve all of your stakeholders, have open forums for the public
• Create a website specific to your program and provide resources for families

2. Train your teachers in the same manner you would if you were providing students with the device.
The best programs front load training for teachers prior to launch. If you follow step #1, students are going enter class with their device in tow ready to conquer the world. Your school’s program is not just about letting the students on the network, you want to impact the teaching and learning cycle. Get teachers the digital tools they will need at least 6 months in advance.
• Train your teachers on the use of your Learning Management System (LMS)
• Provide training on classroom management in a digital classroom
• Prepare them for dealing with students that don’t have a device
• Make digital learning and resource sharing part of your professional learning community
• Make your professional development ongoing and challenge your teachers to allow students to demonstrate learning in new ways

3. Put a plan in place from the beginning to make your BYOD initiative a 1 to 1 program.
You launched your BYOD program because you recognized that the majority of students had an internet connectable device at home that could be leveraged at school. The reality is that not all of those devices are created equal and some students don’t have access to anything. When you start to plan the launch of your BYOD, include the cure for this in your plan from the beginning. Make it very clear to all of the stakeholders that the plan is for every student to have access to a mobile device in the classroom.
• Poll your students prior to launch to get an idea of the quantity and types of devices to expect students to bring
• Create a recommended list of devices for parents who want to purchase a device for their students
• Propose at least three variations of a plan that would allow the school to supplement or provide devices to the students that have no access

 

 

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