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Wisdom of the many? July 7, 2012

Posted by IaninSheffield in Management, Musings, research.
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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!

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?

How ‘geeky’ are our students? January 7, 2011

Posted by IaninSheffield in Management, Web 2.0.
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We’ve been needing to audit our students’ ICT ‘capabilities’ for a while, but I’ve been hanging back because I wasn’t at all sure exactly what I wanted to explore.  I knew I didn’t want to look at whether they know how and why to use ‘styles’ in a word processing application or the difference between relative and absolute references or the features of a relational database.  There’s no point – I can simply ask my colleagues in the IT department and they’ll give me chapter and verse because it’s what they do.

geek chat

from Geek And Poke

No I wanted to explore more generic . . . ‘skills,’ for want of a better word.  Some of the aspects of ICT use which have only come to the surface in recent times.  Neither did I want this to be an ‘assessment’ i.e. a means of grading our students and monitoring their progress with time . . . I think we do quite enough of that already thank you very much!  No, this exercise is much more about taking a snapshot of what our students currently can do and are doing so that we have an idea of their range of experience and whether that picture is any different across the year groups in school.

To what end?  Well it’s another way of helping us plan the ways our provision and infrastructure ought to be developing and perhaps to provide insights into the areas colleagues might wish to develop in addressing students’ needs and interests.
Here then are the areas I thought we might want to explore:

  • School-produced and delivered online resources (our learning platform)
  • Their experience creating things online
  • Using online communication tools
  • The resources/tools to which they have access
  • Gaming
  • GPS-related resources
  • Online shopping
  • Accessing information online (searching etc)
  • Being safe online
  • Ethical considerations of using computers

Despite the shortcomings of using questionnaires, I suspect a survey tool is likely to provide the most efficient way of collecting data.  So if you’d like to see a draft of how the questions are developing, head on here.  All observations, comments and suggestions welcome.

Students Teaching Teachers? May 2, 2010

Posted by IaninSheffield in Inspiration, research, TELIC.
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Whilst out on the bike today, I was catching up on some of the podcasts I tend to accumulate and the one that caught my attention was episode 190 of Teachers Teaching Teachers. The theme was the role that games might play in school, an area that’s recently piqued my interest. Although it’s a podcast I’ve only recently become aware of, the folks on TTT occasionally invite students into the sessions … and that’s where it got really interesting for me.

The students (Jake, Riley and Matthew) were Seniors, incredibly articulate and I guess it’s fair to say, experts in this field. The teacher participants were trying to tease out the effects that gaming could have on learning . . . with only modest success. This resonated with me as I’d been attempting to do the same with the student involved in the pilot study for our 365Learning project. My initial impression is that students perhaps don’t have the vocabulary to articulate thoughts about their own learning – why should they; it’s something we rarely ask of them. (It’s also the case that I need to develop my questioning skills a little more!)

Although I didn’t find out much about the effects of gaming on learning, it was still fascinating listening to what the students in the podcast had to say. There was a marvellous moment when one of the teachers suggested to Jake that discussion about the narrative and content of a game was difficult, since other students may not have played it and only at higher levels is there sufficient complexity to warrant serious discussion. Jake’s immediate response was that the same is true in the non-tech world if some class members failed to read the set book, or had read the first chapter only. Touché!

Student discussion

From St. Gallen Symposium on Flickr

I came away from the session thinking that we perhaps don’t do this enough. i.e. provide a forum within which teachers and students have the opportunity to engage in serious discourse about learning. Surely there’s much we can learn from each other, given half a chance?