Sunday, November 18, 2012

BYOD: The Newest Tech Trend for Teachers to Hate

If you haven't encountered BYOD yet, get ready! I'm sure it's coming to a faculty meeting near you soon! With cash-strapped districts around the country not able to purchase new technology, or update the stuff that's getting moldy, and the politicians screaming our kids are left behind, the idea of encouraging the students to Bring Your Own Device to school to use in the classroom for school work is catching on faster than the Bubonic Plague.

The idea is that many students have the most updated equipment sitting at home, or in their pockets, book bags, or lockers, on a daily basis.  Why don't we tap into that and allow them to use that equipment during the school day for their school work, instead of using precious school resources to purchase often inferior products (or at best duplicate products) or fighting with them all day to put those items away?  The advent of the "cloud" for online storage, and widespread use of online apps for productivity like Google Docs and the like have allowed for the idea to become much more feasible than ever before.

What could be wrong with such a great idea?  Saving money, integrating technology, teaching kids to be 21st Century Learners with the equipment they actually own......I'm sure from the title of this post you know where I'm headed with this - or at least you should.

Why would teachers hate it?  Let's start with:

  • Not everyone will have the same technology -  Good teachers are already differentiating their instruction for ability levels, now add different types of devices.  Some kids will bring laptops, some tablets, and some smartphones.  Some will be IOS, or Apple products, and some will be Android or PC - yup, platform issues.  Techies will answer, no problem - because you'll be using "the cloud" which is platform neutral.  Teachers will cringe in horror, rightfully so.

  • Not everyone will have something - What will we do about kids who don't have any type of technology, or whose parent won't let them bring their five hundred dollar iPad to school?  Is it fair to the have-nots to just say too bad?  What will we do the day they forget it, it's broken, or not charged?    Does the school now have to provide extras?  If so, are we still saving money?  Are we writing two plans for every tech-integrated lesson now, just in case?  Double work? No thank you.

  • Tech Support -  How much do we provide to equipment that doesn't belong to the district?  Can we trust equipment going back and forth to homes be free from viruses and other nasty stuff?  One virus will take down an entire school to prevent that?  Not a teacher issue really, but when one student can't get on the wireless internet it certainly can disrupt an entire much tech support do we need/expect/provide.  Headache #912.

  • Help - We all know with the cut-backs, professional development was the first to go, and support staff was the second.  So where does a classroom teacher get the support necessary to learn how best to integrate this technology into daily classroom activities?  If the district bought a cart of iPads or laptops, you probably have gotten some professional development time or visits from an Ed Tech Specialist to make sure the district's expenditure was money well spent.  With no monetary layout from the district in a BYOD initiative, what is their responsibility for training? They have no "skin in the game" as it why would they lay out resources to make sure you are supported? 
This last issue, Help, is my greatest fear.  Watch this space next week for resources to help yourself with your school's BYOD initiative, so you won't be overwhelmed.

Out on Whim,

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