Little Big Steps! Well we finally jumped in the deep end! From classrooms that didn’t even have projectors four years ago to a personal learning technologies model for all students in years 5 – 12 in 2013! We hope to give you a little insight into our journey and some information about how our Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) model is working, particularly for students in years 8-12. This article will be followed up with further posts, information and resources over time so stay posted!
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 BYOD is nice but in fact the logistics of doing it are ridiculous. Moving to a multi platform model would seem to be totally ludicrous and would require a huge amount of preparation. In fact this was forcing us to get our gear in order!
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 in getting the learning as the focus in a simple and effective way. Access to files and folders and saving of files across all devices was also a vital part of where we needed to be. Collaboration and sharing via google docs is also an exciting platform that is enabled across the College.
The learning! #whoohoo: Let’s be honest! we are only three weeks into our first year so this section is obviously a complete work in progress! Each day gets better but the systems are working well already. We have documented our finding along the way as we trialled, tested, prepared and implemented. Our aim is to share our resources and collaborate in working towards learners getting more out of the schooling. This year is exciting as we can move past the testing and trialling phase and into training and application.
Some of the resources and documentation can be seen here:
Our Canvas Blog: see how discussions, research and collaboration are starting to take hold along with the simplicity of submitting work online.
Learning by Creating Content: some of the ideas in relation to learning by creating.
Our iPad Blog: actually an “iDevice” focus. Written for our years 5-8 students who have ipads as the Personal Learning Technology but equally so it is for the students across the school encouraging them to use the amazing devices that are already in their pockets.
Challenges and where from here: we need to continually refresh and build on the base that has been created. We are only three weeks in and we look forward to updating you with posts over this year. Stay Tuned!