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Weighed in the balance … BYOD October 28, 2011

Posted by IaninSheffield in Inspiration, Musings, Tools, Twitter.
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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.


Pro Con lists

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!)

Ban ’em all! July 18, 2010

Posted by IaninSheffield in Management, Resources.
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As promised then, a follow-up to the previous post

Mobile devices

From umpcportal on Flickr

The majority of our students enjoy access to wide range of powerful devices from desktops, laptops, netbooks, slates/pads, web-enabled phones, iPod Touches, games consoles and more. Increasingly so as they mature. But when they come into school, those devices have to be left at home or kept in their bag and they’re required to use school equipment. To be fair, they’re quite well catered for there; the school infrastructure and equipment are robust, reliable, well specified, up to date and in good order . . . but it’s not their equipment. There’s no sense of ownership. They have to adapt to the way school has decided to deploy its ICT resources, as indeed most pupils walking through any school gate would experience.

Why is then that we’ve chosen not to tap into the resource base already in place? What are the challenges to be overcome before we exploit that potential? In scanning through a few reports (Naismith et al 2005, Traxler 2008, Schuler 2009), I picked out three basic categories of reason:

  • Technical – school networks in general are set up for security, safety, uniformity and ease of management. This is for the benefit of the organisation, rather than that of the learner.
  • Pedagogical – we’re still developing appropriate techniques for harnessing new technologies, currently to a large extent bending them to fit what we’ve always done. How might our approach change if we don’t have to move to the technology (ICT suite) or have it come to us (laptop bank)? Instead it’s just there . . . all the time.
  • Human – attitudes and norms are more accepting of new technologies in the world at large than they are in school. Teachers using social networking tools to keep in touch with friends and family for example, rarely consider using them to nurture professional relationships.

To examine the factors encouraging and resisting the move towards greater pupil autonomy in device usage, I thought a force-field analysis might help:

Force-field Diagram

Driving and resisting forces

Though the driving forces are largely out of our control, the resisting forces offer scope for reduction. We are already investigating the impact on our infrastructure by exploring an enterprise solution to safely accommodate more devices over our wireless network. With students using their own devices, the school desktop/laptop estate could be reduced, releasing funds to support students for whom equity is an issue. Issues of bullying and child safety should be addressed through the curriculum anyway and may simply need enhancing. If devices provide a distraction in classrooms, we perhaps ought to be exploring the reasons why students feel the need to disengage, rather than blaming the technology.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle however is changing the way we view the encroachment of these technologies into the formal space that is our school. Do we embrace it, seizing the opportunities it provides? Or do we continue to throw up barriers, instead of seeking ways to dissemble them?

I guess it depends whether your cup is half empty . . . or half full.

Naismith, L. et al., 2005. Literature review in mobile technologies and learning. NESTA Futurelab Series. Available at: http://www.futurelab.org.uk/resources/publications-reports-articles/literature-reviews/Literature-Review203/ [Accessed July 16, 2010].

Schuler, C., 2009. Pockets of Potential: Using Mobile Technologies to Promote
Children’s Learning. The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop.

Traxler, J., 2008. Learners–Should We Leave Them To Their Own Devices? Emerging Technologies. Available at: http://partners.becta.org.uk/page_documents/research/emerging_technologies/learners_johntraxler.pdf [Accessed July 16, 2010].

Back to School October 7, 2009

Posted by IaninSheffield in TELIC.
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Last academic year was my first on the “Technology Enhanced Learning, Innovation and Change” or TELIC Masters degree programme at Sheffield Hallam University.  Tomorrow evening is our first session of year 2 and I’m really looking forward to getting back together with the group . . . even though two of the six of us won’t be there.  No, they’ll be at home as usual . . . in Belgium.  The course content and study activities have been stimulating, challenging and have provided me with new perspectives; I’m anticipating the second year will be equally enjoyable.  But the one thing that’ s set it apart from other professional development activities I’ve experienced, is that our group is geographically separated.  As a result, our communication has to be mediated through a digital interface – last year’s weapon of choice was Elluminate which provides a raft of visual and auditory tools to aid collaboration and co-learning.

In some ways the technology got in the way of the learning – there’s always the set up time, the possibility of dropped connections, agreeing on protocols and so on.  But the one thing it challenged us to do was to rethink and reformulate the way we interact with others . . . which surely is what learning is all about?

Why I liked my lessons:

  • Made new friends from a different country and enjoyed a glimpse into another education system
  • Got to try some great new tools
  • Even still had a session when the snow played up – we were all at our own homes
  • Was still able to attend a session though I was away on hols. . . . from a pub with free WiFi  (Hmmm. Idea brewing!)
  • Was able to directly link activities on the course with projects and developments at work, to the mutual benefit of each.
  • Assessment was based on the cumulative contributions over the duration of each module

So what do I hope to get from my second year?  More of the same please, as we begin to focus more on technology and learning from the organisational viewpoint, rather than the personal.