Do you still remember those times when laptops and tablets (or even cellphones) do not exist yet inside classrooms? I actually remember my experience way back in my high school in the year 2000 in which only a handful of students own a laptop. Forms of Internet connection (e.g. WiFi, USB modems, portable hotspots) weren’t even as ubiquitous unlike today. I had actually experienced those times when you have to HotSync with a PDA device such as the Palm Vx to get the latest web clippings via the AvantGo service. That was also the same year when you have to insert a WiFi CompactFlash card just to enable wireless connection on a PDA device or perhaps connect to GPRS connection which was free during those years. Now, enter the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) to school movement.
Does your school have a policy regarding the BYOD situation? Maybe it’s time to update (or upgrade) your policies. 🙂
Some teachers would argue that students are not yet that capable to use such devices in class. How about those fast learners who want to learn more? I’ve seen how elementary students interact easily with technology so why hinder this learning style? We can actually allow students to bring those devices but with the assumption or a rule that it should not interfere with the classroom activities. Of course, a BYOD policy should then be designed for such a situation which means it should cover the rights and responsibilities of the student. Besides, aren’t teachers suppose to teach students how to be responsible with simple and complicated things? A BYOD policy can actually be declared in such a way that a school will never be held liable to whatever happens to a student’s device. If the device gets damaged or lost, the owner is responsible for it and not the school. The BYOD policy can then be integrated with the school’s Acceptable Use Policies (AUP).
Whether you like it or not, the BYOD to school is inevitable as this blogpost explains. It already happens in schools, starting with colleges and even high schools. From simple devices such as cellphones to complex devices such as tablets and laptops. In computer laboratories, 1:1 student to computer setup is the most ideal. But how about those schools who don’t even have the funds for these? I agree with the blogpost’s point about “how slow government moves when it comes to purchase things”. Heck, it might even take years just to get an equipment! And by the time that they get the equipment, it’s already obsolete.
As for the teachers who are already experiencing a transition to a BYOD setup, they should be prepared how to handle and teach a BYOD class. Here’s a blogpost on preparing to teach a BYOD class. In my experience, I encourage students to bring their own devices in class to translate the responsibility of handling the device on their own hands if the workstations available in the school’s laboratory are not enough (e.g. faulty workstations) to support all of the students. At least, there would be less need for lab technicians (or no need for you to take the role of a technician and not get paid). Sometimes, the devices that the students bring are even better than the computers in the lab which is another reason why I encourage them to. Nevertheless, I still teach my students how to do more (activities) with less (resources) by having students use Linux on the lab computers with lower hardware specs.
Now, I’m just wondering if elementary schools here in the Philippines allow students to use these learning devices in class. I believe that it’s better to expose these kids to such technology as early as possible alongside learning how to read faster, write better and play (or all of those gross motor skills that you can think about). If you think about it, it can also be a way to minimize the problem of digital divide. Instead of banning these devices, encourage students to bring and share their own device to empower not only them but also their classmates who don’t have these.
If you have ideas about BYOD in K-6 schools in the Philippines, feel free to share about it by leaving a comment on this post. 🙂