I have been working with BYOD with my own grade 3 class over the last month and a half and thought I would share some quick reflections and tips to help other educators who might be on the same journey. Below are my top 3 tips with reflections.
Tip 1: Do Work Around Digital Citizenship First!
Before I began working with BYOD in my classroom I spent a great deal of time working with digital citizenship which included lessons on: safety, footprints, etiquette, and privacy issues. I began by asking students what they know on these various topics and was amazed at how much they knew at such a young age. We spoke about things like what happens if we come across an image that make us uncomfortable? How much time is enough on a device during the day? How do we stay safe on our devices? It is important that students have an understanding of how their devices will be used as a learning tool and how to be safe and create a balance with technology.
In addition to having students understand their devices are now learning tools and not just platforms for playing games on, parents need to understand how their child will be using them in the classroom. To assist with this I sent a letter home to parents outlining some ways we would be using the devices effectively to learn. Also, I provided some tips on ways to take ownership at home and become responsible digital consumers. Parents will have many questions at the start of the journey and it is important to remain open and be there to answer questions or concerns.
Tip 2: Digital Management
Before going BYOD you need to consider how you plan to manage all the devices in your room. This is easier with older students but with 8 year olds it was a concern that I had initially, especially since I follow a responsive classroom design model. That is, students can chose where they sit each day when they come in and we move around frequently. I chose not to lock up students devices for two reasons. First, I did not want to be responsible for the devices of 23 students. Secondly, I wanted students to learn to be responsible and self-regulate with their devices. I want them to learn how their device can be in front of them and they do not have to be on 24/7. As such, students keep their devices on their desks or in their book boxes during the day. I keep my room closed and locked when we are not in the room. Students have also taken ownership for helping ensure the door stays locked at all times.
Tip 3: Don’t be Afraid to Fail/Co-Learn with Your students
It is really important to be open to learning with your students. They know their devices better than you do sometimes. Be prepared to co-learn. For example, when writing I had a student ask me if he could use his spelling App on his device to assist him with his work. I asked him to show me the App and learned about it and he uses it regularly now to assist him and it works for him.
Going BYOD will present its challenges. These can include devices that don’t charge, WIFI issues and students forgetting to bring devices or are unable to for a variety of reasons. In addition, I have attempted several lessons that I have scrapped and had to try again. Some worked well and others didn’t. It is all part of the journey. But I do not regret going down the BYOD path my young learners. Devices are just another tool that I can use throughout the day to help my students learn. I encourage you to try new things and co-learn with your students. When your students see you fail and persevere it will teach them they can do the same.
I would love to hear your thoughts? Are you using BYOD? What successes have you encountered?