BYOT…Helping or Hurting in the Classroom

courtesy of

Bring your own technology, the anagram that has started to gain popularity across schools that are looking to bridge the technological gap while keeping costs down.

From one teacher’s perspective, maybe we should take a longer look at how we adapt our teaching to this new trend.

I am currently bring to close a 8 week interactive web portfolio saga that started last year as a “lightbulb” idea while walking my dog.  My goal was to have a project at the end of the year that students could reflect on, while also revisiting older projects and proving that learning had taken place.  Without getting to much into specifics, I decided that a end of the year portfolio would be perfect.

Since, introducing the project, a little over 3 months ago, I have had a roller coaster of opinions on how much learning was actually taking place as students were advised to using their own technology to work on their portfolio.  The main issue, to many devices, to little time.

See, the students’ devices span the smartphone globe.  Droid, iPhone, Nexus, HTC.  They are all over the place, and I had bought into the idea that the owners knew something about working them, right?  Wrong!!!  To my realization, many of the students do have the first clue how to work the specifics of a smart phone to actually “produce” something.

They’ve got the consuming idea down pat.  Plenty of YouTube videos of cats playing pianos or Harlem Shakes.  However when it came to actually making something, these guys were in the dark.  They have questions like, how do you work this app or where would I find that setting.  Now, I would like to think that I am somewhat well versed with smartphone technology, however I have on average 35 kids per hour, at 6 hours, well, that’s between 180-200 smartphones to have to know something about.  Sorry guys, I’m good, but not that good.  On average, I have been spending about 15 mins. of my 45 min. teaching session to troubleshoot cell phone issues.

Now I know the average reader will say, well this is more an issue about there computer classes teaching them how to use their phone or why are parents buying these devices if the kids don’t know how to use them.   Or maybe the teacher should only allow certain types of devices to be used.  Whatever argument you have the truth of the matter is simple, if the audience doesn’t know what they are staring at, they most likely won’t buy what is being sold to them. (what a weird analogy)

My kids can play their hearts out on Angry Birds, and tweet all the mean stuff they hear in the hallway, but attaching a picture to a tweet while hash tagging the instructor…well that’s madness.

I plan on using this lesson again, I won’t abandon it, however changes need to be made.  Students need to understand the power that they have in their hands and how/what it can do.  When am I ever going to have to use this Mr. Pappas?

Well from what I am seeing in the “real world”…EVERYDAY.

Does your school adapt to student’s technology?

If so, how are they implementing plans?  Classroom-wide, grade-wide, building or district?

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