Monday, March 2, 2015

5 Common Mistakes Schools and Teachers Make When Implementing BYOD

Anyone who has read this blog over the past decade is aware that I have always been an advocate for "bring your own device"---in particular student cell phones.  However, as more schools have been changing their policies to be inclusive of a BYOD policy, there have been some mistakes made along the way.  I want to share these common errors in hopes that other teachers and schools can learn from the trailblazers.

Not creating a policy first
In the early days of BYOD, many teachers would get excited by the idea and immediately ask their students to take out their cell phones in class for an activity.  While there was initial excitement, this also led to some students abusing the tool and using it in non-educative ways.  It is important that teachers work with their students to develop rules and structures BEFORE asking them to take out their devices to use in the classroom.  Once rules are in place, then the students know the expectations and consequences for misuse, and distractions are less likely to happen.

Requiring that all teachers use the devices
Over the past five years, school districts have written district-wide policies about how BYOD can be used in the classroom.  Some of those schools have chosen to require that teachers use student's devices, despite teachers not being comfortable or not seeing a strong educative purpose.  Teachers should be given a choice, just as they have other choices in other tools used in their lesson planning.  Forcing teachers to do something they are not comfortable with or that they do not think is in the best interest of the children, will not yield positive results.  Teachers may even resent the new policy in the end.

Starting BIG
Of course teachers are innovative and creative, thus when they hear about a new way to use cell phones in learning, they tend to think really big and come up with complicated ideas for how to integrate them.   Yet, as with most technologies, a small pilot is a more manageable way to begin.  Teachers can do small optional projects for homework and then simple activities in the classroom.  Districts can ask a group of teachers to pilot the BYOD policy, rather than all the teachers in the district.

Assuming ALL kids and parents have cell phones
While cell phones are becoming more ubiquitous amongst children and adults, there are still plenty (mostly lower SES) that do not have access or do not have access to higher-end devices such as Smartphones.  Teachers need to be careful about relying too much on just using apps and websites with BYOD.  Inevitably some of their students will only have a feature phone that can text and make a phone call but no Internet.  Teachers need to make sure they have surveyed their students so they know the types of phones, plans and access that their students actually have.  Then design BYOD lessons for ALL students.

Doing something because it is "shiny"
BYOD is very sexy.  When you see a picture of students using their own devices in classrooms, the thought is that they are innovative 21st century learners.  However, just because students are using their devices does not mean that the learning goals are being met in a way that is enhanced.  It may actually be the opposite, students may be distracted by the app they are using on their phones, and not focusing on the content learning.  Teachers need to make sure they are designing BYOD with the end goals in mind, and not designing based on a new fun app or mobile resource they just learned about.

What are some other pitfalls that schools or teachers fall into when implementing BYOD?  I would love to hear from you?


NDoyle said...

I found this post to be extremely informative as I am teaching in a school with a strict 'No Mobile Phone' policy.
For me, I feel that if a student has been missing from school and has missed out on certain activities or notes, the most convenient thing for them to do would be to take a snapshot of the work on their mobile phone. The alternative requires the notes to be photocopied (frowned upon under the Green Schools Initiative) or for the work to be forwarded via email. However, in my experience, students are reluctant to check their email or can't remember their password etc.
I hope to discuss some of the common pitfalls for BYOD at my next staff meeting and hopefully will discuss the importance of having a policy in place regarding the use of certain devices.
I do think it could be very difficult to keep students on task, and to ensure that the devise is being used appropriately.
Do you have any suggestions regarding this issue?

Claire Rogers said...

I agree with the above comment. I thought this blog entry was very useful.
Pupils in my class have been allowed to bring in their own devices for project work. Students are encouraged to take photographs to be printed in school or to use their devices as a timer in cooperative learning applied classes. Reading the 'common mistakes' post, I found myself being familiar with many. We failed to make a policy before allowing pupils the phones. One iPod went missing and reappeared under mysterious circumstances. I believe that these challenges can be carefully avoided with a clear policy. Pupils now are only allowed to bring phones in if they are locked away in the office when not in use. Pupils are not allowed phones on the yard.
In terms of using smaller steps, I agree that the more simple their use, the better. Often, learning can be lost in the midst of managing a complicated ICT class with ten year olds.

Liz Kolb, Ph.D. said...

Thank you for the comments on this post. Unfortunately there is definitely not a "cure all" for the pitfalls of BYOD, but having strong policies in place before starting is very helpful. I would also suggest that offering students bonus points for grit when they finish an assignment with BYOD is also helpful. For example if a student finishes early, they can help another student (rather than goofing around on their device) or take the initiative to try a more challenging activity within the learning goal.

Audrey Nay said...

Thanks Liz I have shared this widely as it is very good advice

Unknown said...

I would be interested in my school becoming a BYOD school. To my knowledge, the only time students bring in a device from home is on a Friday for use during Golden Time.

Currently, I am teaching Junior Infants in an Irish school (4-5 year olds). We have a set of four class computers that the students work at in pairs. They visit websites such as I often communicate with parents via email and have shared resources/photos etc. with them on Google Drive. I have set up an Edmodo account although, this has not been met with much enthusiasm thus far.

We have a policy in our school regarding the use of IT but it is in need of review. Many teachers would not be too keen on the idea of communicating with parents via email as you are contactable at any time in this way. When does the working day end? and so, I agree that requiring all teachers to use IT in the same manner would not be a good idea. I can also relate to the "starting big" mistake. It's very easy to get carried away, especially if an up to date policy is not in place. In sharing videos of in-class activities with parents, I must admit that I did assume most families would have access to the internet on their phones or laptops.

My question to you is, have you experience implementing BYOD practice in junior classes? If so, could you share your experiences, and if not, could you offer some suggestions as to how to maximise the use of IT in my classroom?


Liz Kolb, Ph.D. said...

Hi Lisa
Thank you for your comment and question. It is exciting to read about teachers interest in mindfully using BYOD with very young children. My best recommendation is to set up a text alert with parents through Remind, or Classpager. I personally love Classpager, it is the most accessible of the three. This will allow you to text parents mini activities that they can do with their children at home as an extension of school (technology and non-technology based). You can also send guiding questions for concepts like digital citizenship (how to talk to your child about proper use of a parent's cell phone/iPad...etc). In addition, you can ask the parents to work with their children to come up with text response to academic questions. Classpager and do a great job documenting the analytics of activities. I would also recommend checking out for connections with families and young children.

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