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Wisdom of the many? July 7, 2012

Posted by IaninSheffield in Management, Musings, research.
Tags: , , , ,

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!

survey responses

cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo by The Bees: http://flickr.com/photos/thebees/4982556761/

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?


1. Information … graphically? « In the pICTure - August 18, 2012

[…] outlined in the preceding post the results of a survey of our students; one aspect of the preparation for our forthcoming BYOD […]

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