My last post was about Our Approach to BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and the strategies we implemented to make it a success. But even as parents were bringing in the devices, they continued to inquire into the why. A very valid question, and my response was always the same.
1. In elementary school students are malleable. What teachers say and do influences student actions, and lessons learned in the classroom resonate. When parents ask if elementary is too early for their child to use devices I often say that it is the perfect time. As students use devices in the classroom, the teacher is able to shape the appropriate use of technology. This is important because with anything new, there is always a certain level of curiosity and the relationship that students have with their elementary teachers creates an environment to positively shape online behaviour and traits that they will carry forward. This tends to create an “a-ha” moment as parents realize that by providing students with ownership of their devices, we are giving them not just a sense of responsibility, but the support to experience the power of digital access and “just in time” learning opportunities in a manner that will positively shape their use of devices in the future.
2. Inquiry-based learning is permeating our classrooms. In my opinion, for inquiry to truly happen, students must have opportunities to; find the latest information, explore multiple viewpoints, learn through varied mediums (webpages, video clips, etc), use various tools to showcase their knowledge and communicate with the world beyond their classroom. Digital access provides students with options that textbooks just cannot.
3. It may be dated to say this, but I will anyway…technology is changing quickly. The laptops we had at our school were near the end of their time. The question became, do we invest in 30 more laptops that 180 students will share throughout the day or was there a better way? The idea was brought up that perhaps purchasing more school laptops, as an extension of our current supply of devices would be preferable alternative to BYOD. The problem was that it would have been a large investment for what would amount to a two or three year period. Instead, we spoke to those fiscal realities while demonstrating the power of digital access on student learning and the parents saw value in our decision to go BYOD. The students take great pride in their own devices and their ability to take learning home with them. They create when they want to create, and inquire when they want to inquire; this has been the power of BYOD.
In the end, digital literacy requires digital access. Just as students become better readers by reading more books and better athletes with more practice; students demonstrate greater “digital fluency” by having engaging, relevant, consistent and regular access to devices, and for me that is what Bring Your Own Device provides.