This page has a bit of info on BYOD and then collation of information that may be of use.
Our Journey: Newington College, like many other schools, was all Windows except for a few isolated Macs in Visual Arts and Music. The systems and software being used by the College were also all windows heavy. The idea of going BYOD was nice a lot of things needed to be thought about to make it a reality. In fact this just forced us to get our gear in order and get all services working well across all devices and platforms!
Why BYOD?: Realistically, laptop programs in an organisation usually have the focus on simplicity for the IT department to set up as opposed to having the focus on learning and authenticity. The problem is that often the users are usually provided with devices that don’t appeal to them or they may well have a better device at home. Students may already have a device and having to buy another just for school can also be a point of conjecture. The homogenous model of all being on the same platform is not authentic for how our students (or us!) actually use technology today.
Our Take on BYOD: We felt that there needs to be a happy medium in the choice of personal learning technologies otherwise the inability of the device to do required tasks becomes the focus! We set minimum requirements and we are encourage the use of other devices in parallel as required. We offered a range Windows and Mac laptops that could be bought through the College at discounted rate as well as allowing other devices as long as they satisfied certain performance characteristics.
“the focus of a BYOD model is not actually about the devices it is about getting things right so that it does not matter what device is used and so learners can get to learning”
If we get it right then the technology should just work and not be seen for most of our tasks.
What Systems have helped bring it all together: “browser-based”, “device agnostic” and “the cloud” were the magic terms that were bandied around in exploring systems. After exploring a number of Learning Management Systems we chose Canvas by Instructure and this has proved to be the biggest success so far in getting the learning as the focus in a simple and effective way (read more here). Google Drive has also been superb bringing Collaboration and sharing along on all devices. It has also helped markedly with access to files and folders on all devices. We have had some success with webDav and the like but genuine controlled access to Files and folders with permissions and management has been the biggest hurdle but one that we hope will be solved in term 1 of 2104!
The learning! #whoohoo: The most exciting part of all this is seeing it’s enhancement of learning. We are seeing authentic use of how technology is being used by our students and staff and this will be the main focus of all areas of this blog. One great activity that really highlighted the power of personal learning technologies and the enrichment they can bring to learning was the Challenge Based Learning Project that ran with all year 7 in 2013.
Challenges and where from here?:
One year in, we are in the very early stages! We continue to learn and be challenged every day. We hope to share what we learn in this blog. If you have any questions or feedback please feel free to contribute in the comments section of this page.