Saturday, September 28, 2013

Mishaps of BYOD

I am still a dreamer when it comes to 1:1 in my classroom.  I pretty much fantasize with the day that begins to happen at my school.  In the meantime, I have adopted BYOD (Bring your own device), also known as BYOT (bring your own technology), as a means of using technology effectively in the classroom.  This is, of course, not the only way but it has come a long way in my classroom in general.  Most of the time, of course, whenever I plan to use devices, I keep in mind that it will require a teamwork activity since not all of my students own a mobile Internet-enabled apparatus.

So, besides this, I have encountered several other situations regarding BYOD that I have to face as "side effects" of the implementation of the policy.  If these outweigh the level of engagement you acquire using students´ devices is pretty much up to you and your settings and context.

Some of the mishaps I have encountered are.:
  1. Not all apps are compatible with different devices.  This may cause frustration in the student or students whose device is not working with the rocking educational app that you are using.  I did not know, for instance, that you cannot edit a Google doc on an ipad (correct me if I´m wrong).  If not all of your students have devices of you have a limited amount, this will limit your accessibility, and probably success, of your activity.  My advice is to make sure that the application or site you are using can be opened in most devices.  
  2. Speaking of apps, some of them will not work, especially if you are assessing students individually and not all kids have devices.  Applications, such as Socrative, Exitticket, or TheAnswerPad are great if each one of your students have a mobile Internet-enabled device, but in a BYOD environment, this is not always true.  Therefore, use such applications only if you are ok with not having individual feedback from your students but team input instead.  
  3. Students who do not have devices might feel discriminated.  I have seen this happen a little too often.  If a student is feeling "out" due to the fact that he or she has no device, they might feel affected throughout the whole class, making your very cool activity of little value to them.
  4. Students who do not own devices might push parents into buying them one.  I recently had a student get himself a very cool mobile phone.  I asked him how had he convinced his parents into buying him one.  His reply was: "I told them that if they would not get me one, I would not do very good in your classes".  This is not always good as some parents might be struggling to make meets end and they really do not need any more pressure to buy something that is not in the materials list they received at the beginning of the school year.  I have made it my duty to very clearly explain parents that mobile devices are not an obligatory purchase and that not having one is not going to affect students´ grades in any way.  Make sure parents understand this as kids might be very manipulating at home.
  5. Even if policy says student is responsible for its own device, it still does not come easy on parents, especially if something happens to it.  Mostly, students are not really aware of the cost of an electric device, and even if they are they are mostly negligent when it comes to taking care of it.  Even if you clearly explained in your policy that every student is responsible for taking care of their own device, very seldom will a parent oversee a broken laptop caused by an accident inside the classroom.  They need to make someone responsible for the damage and this will very rarely be their own kid.  I´m telling this from experience.
  6. You are risking making your class BYOD-dependent.  This is not a problem in a 1:1 settings since it is  actually expected for you to use devices constantly, even if it is to value the investment. But if you make it a custom to have kids use their devices in almost every class, you might end up affecting students'  level of engagement when you do not use them.  On the bright side and making the best out of the bad, you could take advantage of this as a motivation to push yourself into coming up with really creating activities that do not rely on technology.  Remember that a good teacher is not tech-dependent.
  7. You might be making your class Internet-dependent as well.  This one will make no difference in a 1:1 setting either, though, since they require Internet as well.  We have pretty bad thunderstorms here where I live, affecting the antenna that provides wi-fi to our school.  Sometimes, this suspends the connection or makes it faulty.  In a perfect world, Internet never goes off and runs pretty smoothly and strongly.
  8. Depending on your school´s policy you must be very clear as of when are students supposed to bring in their devices.  Most schools I know still have a no-cell phone policy, including mine.  Some kids will bring their mobile phones every day even if it is against such policy;  except that they will feel vouched by the fact that you mostly ask them to bring them.  You must be careful not to conflict your BYOD policy with school´s policy.  So you have to work a little extra on organizing when will students use their devices for your class and they should know in advance.  Make sure your supervisor or superintendent is aware of the dates, times, and activities you will be having kids use their mobile devices.
These are mostly the mishaps I encounter when using BYOD in my class.  Make sure your school has a very explicit policy and has made it available to students and parents.  Please share with me what other issue have you encountered and how have you overcome it, if you had. 

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