Must it be an either or? 1:1 or BYOT? November 24, 2012Posted by ianinsheffield in Management, Musings.
Tags: 1:1, BYOD, BYOT
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Spending a leisurely weekend away allowed me to catch up on a few podcasts and become acquainted with a relatively newcomer in ‘Out of School’ from Fraser Speirs and Bradley Chambers. Many of you may know Fraser through Twitter and already be aware of the 1:1 iPad project he’s overseen at Cedars, the school where he works in Scotland. Bradley too manages an iPad project in a school in Chattanooga in the US, but with a slightly different model, one which provides access through iPad ‘banks’ in school.
Though the content is perhaps inevitably skewed towards Apple products and services, they discuss at length the planning, strategies and issues you’re likely to need to take into account if you’re considering a 1:1 programme. The episodes cover ground like networks, connectivity, devices and their management, the people (students, teachers, parents, school leaders), legal and insurance issues, breakages and support, lifetime and refresh cycles, applications and workflow … the whole spectrum. As such they’re a great listen and certainly helped me think through our forthcoming programme, revisit the planning we’ve done so far and brought to the fore some of the issues we might need to revisit.
Now for many reasons, our project is not 1:1 in the same ways that the guys have at their schools. Ours is a BYOT initiative and about those, our hosts were rather less than complimentary. All the usual slings and arrows were loosed: bewildering variety of platforms & applications, difficult for teachers to plan/manage lessons, difficult for tech support, equity/uniformity of access. These are all valid points and ought to be addressed during preparatory discussions with stakeholders and as part of the project planning process … and indeed doubtless will need to be revisited as the project rolls out. But it’s not as though a more traditional, school-managed 1:1 project isn’t without its challenges too. Yes it overcomes some of the difficulties inherent in BYOT, but as Fraser and Bradley kindly point out during the series of podcasts, 1:1 also raises its own challenges.
For me the choice between one flavour and the other requires me to revisit the underlying philosophy. In a 1:1 programme, I’d suggest the emphasis is on the school (the devices are school-owned or school-procured or the spec. is school-determined), the teacher (a consistent platform makes it more manageable for them), tech support (techs are better able to support and manage the estate and infrastructure) and the devices (the spec., the apps, the frequency of refresh etc). But surely the starting point should be the learner? Outside the school gates, they (or at least the ones who can afford it!) make the choice of technology they want to use: tablet, laptop or desktop, phone and/or camera, phone and/or music player … though of course that choice will be different for some than others and is not immune to external influences. Oughtn’t we to allow the same degree of freedom in the device they choose to support their learning? When they leave our schools to hopefully continue their learning, won’t they then have the freedom to choose their platform and, having had the opportunity to undertake BYOT, be better placed to make a rationale choice? In the real world if they can’t connect to the coffee house’s wireless network, do they ask the barista? Back in school, are we really so incapable of designing a learning experience which is sufficiently open to enable our learners to succeed whichever way they choose to access it?
In a well-balanced blog post, Keith Rispin took a close look at comparing iPad versus BYOT programmes and highlighted several strengths and weaknesses of each. He also recognised how considering a transition from school-owned and controlled devices through to BYOT might be valuable as students become older, more responsible and more capable of managing their own learning.
In conclusion then, for me it’s BYOT to encourage learner autonomy, choice and independence, not 1:1 in order to make life easier for us … at least it is as students become older.
You might like to check out one particular episode of ‘Out of School’ in which Fraser & Bradley compare a 1:1 with a BYOD programme:
Information … graphically? August 18, 2012Posted by ianinsheffield in research, Resources, Teaching Idea.
Tags: BYOD, BYOT, data handling, design, infographic, visualisation
I outlined in the preceding post the results of a survey of our students; one aspect of the preparation for our forthcoming BYOD programme. But how to reflect the outcomes back for the various constituents? A report for the Senior Leadership Team? A blog post for the staff? A poster for the students themselves?
And that’s when I realised here was the authentic opportunity I’d been looking for to create my first infographic. A single output suitable for all audiences … and therefore a challenge indeed. So what would be my weapon of choice for such an undertaking. Well the data was already in a Google form, which has its own output option; whilst this isn’t too bad for the numerical aspects of the survey, it’s less than good in showing the free-text responses. Of the other tools, Infogr.am has been stealing the march on generating data visualisations just recently, but didn’t quite offer the features I needed to display the two different data types. In the end another imperative drove my choice and nudged me towards the ‘old-school’ approach with an offline application. A good few years ago, I became quite adept in using vector graphic applications and specifically CorelDraw (if I tell you I was using version 8, this article will give you a clue as to when that was!). I’ve allowed those skills to decline, am in great need of a refresher and recently became aware of Inkscape, an open source vector graphics editor. Reasons aplenty then.
Then reality kicked in! My ‘designer gene’ has always been somewhat dormant and inspiration often eludes me, though as I learned on “edtechcc“, having never really studied nor mastered the design process, there’s an awful lot to it (kudos to Design Tech teachers!). In the end then, it was more a matter of synthesising the data, translating into a more visual form and reducing its complexity somewhat, rather than making it as beautiful as David McCandless might. I hope however that I’ve at least started my journey towards making data more accessible by thinking about:
the creative organization, styling and presentation of information with the goal of increasing interest, readability and comprehension beyond that of pure text.
Knowing the time it took to put together even this simple affair, the skills I had to develop with Inkscape, the interpretation and reimagining of the data and especially the creativity (albeit limited in my case!) involved in choosing and deploying a design, making an infographic would surely provide a worthy challenge for our students?
Wisdom of the many? July 7, 2012Posted by ianinsheffield in Management, Musings, research.
Tags: BYOD, BYOT, polling, students, wisdom of crowds
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I got the following response to a question I asked about BYOD during the week:
Would they be covered on the insurance? Where would they be stored? Overall I remain unconvinced. It is probably a good idea for 6th formers but certainly not for younger students.
This was a verbatim response … from a student!
We’re launching a BYOD pilot programme across our 6th form in the Autumn term, but with the intention of extending it across other years following an evaluation of that pilot. Our preparations have included discussions with staff, and with the students who will be included in the pilot. We also wanted to ‘test the water’ with years 7 to 10 though and find out the level of technology to which they had access, their attitudes to using it in school and if indeed they had any desire to use it. Rather than the face-to-face discussions we’ve had with other constituencies, we felt a short poll would suffice at this stage and I’ve just begun analysing the results.
In addition to finding out the types of device they have, their confidence with them and whether they would bring them to school, we also asked an open-ended attitudinal question:
Have you any thoughts at all about the possibility of being allowed to use mobile devices to help your learning? Good thing? Bad thing? Possible problems?
Bear in mind this was done in a few minutes during morning registration, there was no preliminary discussion and this was the first time any of them would have heard about the possibility of BYOD. Without performing a numerical analysis of how positive or negative the responses to this question were, I got the impression that they were largely favourably inclined to the possibility of BYOD. Some students provided positive responses, some negative and many produced balanced returns. However, whilst the general feeling was positive, it was nowhere nearly as focused and specific as the concerns they expressed:
- Batteries often go flat.
- You could lose them or have them stolen.
- Not everyone has their own device.
- Might be problems connecting to the wifi.
- Can sometimes get distracted and go off task.
- I wouldn’t want someone else to borrow my phone.
- My mum wouldn’t let me bring it.
- Some people would text rather than doing what they should be.
- Where would be able to store them?
- I wouldn’t want it to cost me money.
- I prefer not to use mobile devices for learning, although laptops are OK.
- What programmes students use wouldn’t be controllable.
- With everyone using it, it might slow up the Internet.
- If it breaks, you wouldn’t be able to do any work.
- Although a good thing, we should still be allowed to use pen and paper if we want.
- Different students might have different programmes.
How amazing that with so little preparation, forethought and time, students should come up with almost the same list of concerns that educators did during an hour-long #ukedchat on BYOD. I was stunned! And I’ve only analysed half the returns so far! The positive responses, though less clearly focused towards specific aspects of learning than the educators, nevertheless pointed towards familiarity, ease and speed of use and increased level of access.
Knowing the concerns that students actually have, rather than the concerns that we think they might have … or that we have as staff, means we can redouble our efforts into resolving them. We can then make sure that prior to taking the next steps, we ensure students are aware of how their concerns are being addressed. The one issue that still bothers me above others however is that of equity, but maybe here’s an opportunity to engage the students yet further – how would they prefer to see the equity gap narrowed. Maybe the Wisdom of Crowds could help out here too?
BYOD: Narrowing the digital divide? April 19, 2012Posted by ianinsheffield in Management, Musings.
Tags: BYOD, BYOT, digital divide, equity
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I’ve been following the BYOD/BYOT discourse for some while now, avidly reading as many blog posts as I can find, chipping in following an #edchat debate and listening to podcasts involving practitioners who have implemented BYOD programmes. Hardly surprising perhaps since we’re almost in the position to begin such a programme in school and I’m keen to learn from the experiences and thoughts of others.
One factor which inevitably emerges in almost all discussion is that of equity i.e. what will the impact of a BYOD programme be on those students from families who aren’t in the position to be able to provide them with a device. People are rightly concerned that BYOD will stretch the equity divide yet further; as someone who would have been in the ‘have nots’ category, it’s been troubling me too. But maybe there’s an alternative perspective?
Let’s first imagine the pre-BYOD circumstances: the ‘haves’ have their iPads, Smartphones, MBPs and so on … but they’re not allowed them in school. Here, both the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ suffer because neither has the opportunity to use a device other than the IT suites and laptop banks the school can provide. There’s certainly no sense of ownership/agency.
Now imagine a post-BYOD situation: the ‘haves’ bring in their devices, thereby reducing the impact on the school IT estate. Rather than seeing this as the means by which the school can reduce the estate, perhaps it’s a wonderful opportunity to redeploy it … in favour of the ‘have nots?’ Now the ‘haves’ have AND the ‘have nots’ too.
Yes the details would certainly demand careful thought, but just maybe BYOD might actually be one way the digital divide can be narrowed.
Weighed in the balance … BYOD October 28, 2011Posted by ianinsheffield in Inspiration, Musings, Tools, Twitter.
Tags: #edchat, BYOD, cons, debate, discussion, pros, technology, twitter
At midnight on Tuesday, just before I retired to the Land of Nod, I made the mistake of a quick peek at the Twitterstream. #edchat was just about to start on the topic of BYOD – Bring Your Own Device. This is a topic very near to my heart at the moment, since we’re improving our school infrastructure to allow us to enable BYOD should we so choose. Hearing (reading?) what people have to say on the topic took precedence over my need for sleep, so I joined the animated discussion.
Wanting to be able to refer back to what people had said and catch up on the myriad of tweets I missed, I checked out the archive. Having thought I might Storify the stream, adding the numerous extra resources that people had referenced, it soon became apparent that wouldn’t be possible. The following day (after a good night’s sleep) by the time I started to pull the Twiiterstream for #edchat through, there had been so many subsequent tweets with that hashtag, that Storify couldn’t go back far enough to the BYOD discussion.
Instead then, and because the debate raised many issues both against and in favour of BYOD, I turned to Pro|Con lists. Using the archive, I pulled out all the comments on each side of the argument and listed them in Pro Con, then applied what I felt were appropriate weightings. The results are here, BUT they’re clearly only my opinions. The great thing about Pro Con lists is that others get the chance to influence the results – democracy in action? Hover over each of the arguments and you can say whether you agree or disagree (you do need to sign up (free) or you can log in with Facebook).
Overall then, it would appear that I tend to favour BYOD … but maybe you can change that! For or against! (Do check the interactive elements of the results chart)
Wouldn’t this be an interesting and useful tool to use with your students for summarising a debate on a controversial (or non-controversial) issue? Have the discussion in class, create the Pro Con list from the group’s responses, then perhaps as a homework task have them visit it to contribute whether they were for or against the group’s arguments.
Thanks to all the good folk of Twitter who participated in the aformentioned #edchat session for your ideas and advice. In particular the following who provided the Pros & Cons: @fereydoon1975, @sammorra, @Jena_Sherry, @MrsBecks25, @Luke1946, @cybraryman, @mmebrady, @diginativenick, @patjlee, @Digin4ed, @tomwhitby, @mrsblanchetnet, @drdouggreen, @drdouggreen, @DMS_Principal, @DaretoChem, @mrnichol, @mrsgosselin, @irasocol, @javafest, @blairteach, @MrReidWSS, @MisterTelfer & @tomgrissom
(Hope I attributed the right people!)