According to Prensky, digital natives are “native speakers of digital language”, while a digital immigrant is defined as those who didn’t grow up with technology and had to learn/adapt along the way (2001a). But are these terms still relevant with the constantly changing and evolving uses of technology in the classroom? Technology has become an expected area of understanding for teachers as part of the overall best practice, similar to good classroom management being expected in all classes. While I would be more considered a digital native by Prensky's terms, I know people from all ages who are very competent using technology.
I believe the idea of digital natives and digital immigrants is very outdated in my international context. If we consider our students to be digital immigrants now, what will our students be in 50 or 100 years? Are these terms even necessary? Our school is a 1 to 1 laptop school for both teachers and students. It is essential that all students and teachers embrace the use of technology when appropriate for teaching and learning. The idea of digital natives and digital immigrants is erased and replaced with terms such as growth mindset and fixed mindset becoming more relevant for integrating technology. In a previous post, I focused on the importance of expanding our knowledge by problem solving, resiliency and pushing boundaries of personal understanding with an emphasis on growth mindset and not labelling individuals as digital natives or immigrants (MacLean, 2015).
We should be encouraging our teachers and students to be open-minded and willing to learn regardless of the medium. We should be encouraging our students to be risk-takers, to make mistakes and to learn from them. Having a growth mindset, allows us to be open to new challenges (which could be technology for some).
Our current school policies do not lend themselves to the terms digital natives or digital immigrants. Rather, again, there is an expectation of teachers using technology only when appropriate for best practice and students using technology as a resource only when it enhances their learning.
21st Century Learner Or Just a Learner
As a teacher, it is my role to facilitate learning for students by helping them develop skills and conceptual understandings that can be transdisciplinary and transferred into any avenue for their future. Students need to learn to be good communicators, creative and critical thinkers, collaborative, with an ability to be self-managed, engaged and passionate about learning. These skills can be developed through a multitude of learning experiences in both formal and informal settings. In addition, being reflective needs to be combined into this learning process as well.
Again, I truly believe that the label of a 21st century learner is now irrelevant. To me, it is just being a learner. We want our students to develop skills to be lifelong learners, now and always. It is not something that is restricted to only the 21st century and many educators understood the importance of teaching transdisciplinary skills before the 21st century and will continue to after the 21st century.
From an ICT integration standpoint, I use the 6 ICT in PYP skills as a way to fuse effective technology implementation into the curriculum where necessary. These include: creating, collaborating, organising, communicating, investigating and developing a digital citizen (The role of ICT in PYP, 2011). In order to be effective using any technology tool, students need to develop the finer skills associated with these to be successful. There are so many collaborative tools that exist, but it is more important for students to understand how to use group roles, taking turns, respectfully disagreeing and having healthy debates than how to use Padlet or Google Docs. Students need to learn how to build on others ideas while giving credit and not feel that someone is stealing their idea. These skills can be taken out of the technology world and applied into other real world experiences, which makes the learning meaningful and long lasting.
Through an inquiry-based, constructivist teaching model, students can develop their curiosity for learning and learn the skills to find the answers to what they want to learn. When passion and enthusiasm is involved as a learner, the learning really is limitless.
The role of ICT in PYP. (2011). International Baccalaureate. UK: IB.
MacLean, E. (2015, November 20). Digital Immigrant or Native? Growth Mindset More Important [Blog]. Retrieved from http://emilymacleanmed.blogspot.sg/2015/11/digital-immigrant-or-native-growth.html
Prensky, M. (2001a). Digital Natives, Digital immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5).
As students develop through the school year, they develop and refine their skills and practice by setting new goals, creating action plans and engaging with actionable items as a means to work towards achieving their goals while reflecting throughout the process. An eportfolio is one way of documenting and reflecting on a student’s learning journey in a meaningful and authentic way. It serves as a place for students to highlight and reflect on pieces of selected work, which can be shared with parents, teachers and peers. The structure of e-portfolios can vary depending on the age of students, goals of the school and individual choice.
Questions to Consider
When beginning the process towards implementing e-portfolios, teachers and administrators should reflect on a number of questions prior to rolling them out.
What is the Purpose of an e-Portfolio?
Defining the goal of the e-portfolio is key for all of the stakeholders. Some e-portfolios may be more focused on the process of learning (snapshots of learning throughout the experience), product focused (finished pieces of work) or even a combination of both. Some schools may focus more on only studentselected pieces or they may mandate teacherselected pieces or, again, somewhere along the continuum. To summarise one approach a school might take, an e-portfolio may be a process journal to reflect on the journey of learning through studentselected pieces of work with reflections, with input and guidance from their teachers.
What Will It Look Like?
What e-portfolios look like in schools depends on a variety of factors varying from device type, platform choice and age level. The experience of creating e-portfolios is very different for students who have a laptop or an iPad.
There a number of different platforms available to create student e-portfolios. Whether using Easy Blogger Jr, Seesaw, Managebac or Google Sites, it is important for schools to consider their existing systems and how the implementation of e-portfolios may work within these systems.
One concern schools often have with the development of e-portfolios is that they must be consistent throughout the school: if one year group uses one application, all must use the same. While this is true to a certain extent, it is more appropriate to ensure that the choice of platform is appropriate for the age of the students. This could mean that it may be better for younger students to use iPads and a blogging application using pictures, videos and audio reflections, while junior students transition to a more sophisticated platform to incorporate a wider range of multimedia selections, written reflections and a more comprehensive scope of all learning of subjects, concepts and skills. Regardless of what a school uses to create its e-portfolios, it is most important that it works for the needs of the learning community.
Who has Ownership of the e-Portfolio?
It is key to define ownership as it implicates the buyin and enthusiasm towards developing the e-portfolio. Ideally, the owner of the e-portfolio is the student. The e-portfolio is created by the student for the purpose of reflecting, goal setting and sharing his learning with others. While others (parents, teachers, peers, administration) are all stakeholders in the eportfolio process and support the student through the process, the student should have ultimate control over what, when and how his learning is demonstrated to his audience.
Who is the Audience?
Identifying who will see and interact with the e-portfolios further creates a defined purpose for students. The e-portfolios should be a source of information to inform teaching practice. It is beneficial for teachers to confer with their students and their e-portfolio to gain greater insight into their work and reflection. This also allows for coaching of students on the refinement of their goals and planning for next steps.
Students may share their portfolio with other students in class and across year groups. This promotes sharing of learning both vertically and horizontally. Peer assessment/feedback is an important part of the process, allowing students to learn how to give and receive constructive feedback from others, while learning from the work of others.
Students connect their learning with home by sharing with family members and making connections beyond the classroom. Parents can review the portfolio with their child at the end of each unit and discuss their learning and growth over the course of the unit. Many platforms allow parents to subscribe to updates where they receive instant feedback when new entries are added, further adding to timely conversations to connect the learning. Parents should engage with the opportunity to ignite discussion with their child and comment on their work.
How Will It Work?
The logistics of implementation can often make or break the success of any new implementation process. Having a discussion with teachers about how to facilitate implementation in the classroom invites teachers to explore strategies with one another. How many devices do you have? Will this be a once a week task or ongoing as appropriate when students want to add? What requirements do you have for students with their reflections? How will you monitor student progress, entries and conferring? How much time a week do you need to allocate with your planning? All of these questions help to foresee potential areas that would break the flow of implementation. By visualising the plan in advance, teachers are able to plan for successful implementation.
What are the Roles of the Various Stakeholders?
As a school, identifying the stakeholders and their role allows for each stakeholder to have a greater understanding of how they can positively impact the process of e-portfolio implementation and reflections. Once the stakeholders and their role have been identified, actionable items of how they may achieve their role helps to develop transparency amongst stakeholders.
The role of the student may be to create and maintain an e-portfolio throughout the academic year as a way to reflect on his learning and share his growth. By unpacking this role, the student will have a better understanding of how to select pieces, how many pieces should be included throughout the reflection process (as a minimum), how he should reflect and how he will share with others.
There should be role clarity for all teachers who support the student with their e-portfolio: the homeroom teacher, the single subject teacher, the English as a second language teacher, educational support teaching assistants and learning support teachers. Each of these roles play a crucial part in the overall student experience. Where appropriate, the role of the education technology coach should be outlined in how they will support both teachers and students as they navigate the digital portfolio process to ensure implementation does not fully fall on either the homeroom teacher or the education technology coach. Rather, support should be shared by all.
As part of the sharing phase of the process, parents and peers become stakeholders. Parents need to be taught how to engage and interact with digital work, as it may not be a familiar concept or area of comfort. Providing parents with the educational tools to engage with the portfolio and engage in conversations with their child allows for deeper reflections and conversations with their child. Similarly, peers need to understand how to construct their peer feedback to be meaningful and effective without being critical. This is a life skill that can support students beyond the portfolio.
Finally, a shared understanding of the technical aspects of the portfolios needs to be decided. If present, it will likely be the IT department. However, where these departments do not exist at a school level, it may fall to the homeroom teacher or an administrator. To reduce frustrations, the responsibility of creating the templates and deploying them to students, as well as technical problem solving, need to have a stakeholder identified for this role.
What Opportunities are there for Reflection?
As students contribute work to their digital portfolio, they have the opportunity to reflect on any of their work samples, noticing their strengths and areas of growth. They may reflect on how they have demonstrated the learner profile attributes, attitudes and transdisciplinary skills through the selected work samples and their actions at school. Students may reflect on how they have developed throughout the year, as well as between years.
Age-appropriate reflection strategies are key to developing successful reflections. Younger students may wish to reflect through audio, videos, photographs and limited written text, whereas older students may focus on written reflection more. By allowing for choice in how reflections are documented, individual needs shine through with student reflections.
Focusing on the Importance of Students
Regardless of how the school or the teacher defines these questions, the focus of the eportfolio should always come back to the students, their learning experiences and growth. The digital portfolio demonstrates a snapshot of a student’s learning over the course of the year and time within a school. As students progress through the year groups, the portfolio evolves with them, allowing for further reflections between years and not just within a year level. When the e-portfolio is designed with students and their learning as central to the process, e-portfolios can add valuable reflection, documented evidence of learning and a platform for sharing growth, challenges and successes of students as a means of supporting their continual learning journey.
*Originally published on Education Technology Solutions at: educationtechnologysolutions.com.au/2016/10/document-learning-journey-digital-portfolios/
As we aim to broaden our students knowledge of the world, connections and communication becomes more important. Teaching through Web 2.0 allows students to communicate with others, instead of just a one directionally path with no authentic audience input (Hew & Cheung, 2012, p.48). Collaborative approaches to learning are key to helping students construct knowledge together.
In my classroom, I have used a number of Web 2.0 and social media tools to support learning:
Edmodo is like Facebook for education but fits the needs of my students who are under age 13 (age requirement of Facebook). It can be used a general discussion board to ask questions and share resources both during the school day and after hours. As a teacher, I can post polls and also reward students with badges for their efforts. It also provides a great platform for some important digital citizenship conversations such as appropriate online communication, what to reveal about yourself, the difference between professional and personal communication, who to connect with, avatars and profiles and online image.
Available at: https://www.edmodo.com
Skype is often an under used resource. Skype allows you to make video calls to another around the world. Last year, our class did a number of Mystery Skype calls with other classrooms to develop our geography and problem solving skills. We also sang Chinese songs with another school for Chinese New Year, wrote poems together and played math games against other classes.
Available at: http://www.skype.com/
In Year 4, students create cultural blogs to explore their identities. As an international school, the students can find this task challenges with many being third-culture children. The blogs allows them the experiences of writing different posts to explore aspects of their identities and follow the journeys of their classmates and interacting with each other through the commenting features.
Available from: www.blogger.com
e-Portfolios (Google Sites)
All students at our school have e-Portfolios from K1- Year 6. This is a great way for students to reflect on their learning and select pieces of work they wish to share. Students share these portfolios with parents, teachers and other students. Together it opens the lines of communication in person and through the comments. It really helps students to know we are all working to help them grow and learning with constructive feedback and encouragement.
Available at: https://www.google.com/sites/overview.html
As a teacher, I use Twitter to connect globally with other educators. It is a great way to have short discussions while also getting ideas and resources. With the options of both private and public messages, I can easily communicate with the many educators I have met online.
Available at: https://www.twitter.com
Here are 2 articles related to introducing social media to your classroom in the Primary school:
Introducing Social Media to Elementary Students
A Guidebook for Social Media in the Classroom
Hew, K.F. & Cheung, W.S. (2012). Use of Web 2.0 Technologies in K-12 and Higher Education: The Search for Evidence-based Practice, Educational Research Review. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.edurev.2012.08.001
Technology in the classroom has changed substantially over time. Once upon a time, computers were not affordable for the average school to have in each classroom. The computer took up a good chunk of space in the room and had limited functionality. Nowadays, many schools have computers in every classroom, some enough for every student or a BYOD programme adopted so that technology can be integrated on a daily basis.
As a teacher that uses technology on a daily basis to enhance the education experience, it is hard to imagine it being challenging for teachers to find educational uses for computers when they were first being introduced into the classroom (Bigum, 2012, p. 18). For me, trying to find the best way to transform technology for education is something I enjoy doing. I like trying to find new ways to use the tools I have to make learning different and engaging for students. Back when computers were first being introduced this may have been more of a struggle with dedicated teachers still trying to lead the way.
I love being able to introduce new technologies into my classroom. Often I just show my students and just let them explore it. They will often be able to grasp how to use the tool faster and better than I would be able to show them if I was to lead a directed lesson. Because my students are now proficient with a number of technology tools, it is easy for them to transfer their knowledge between technology tools until it is 'domesticated' as part of the class (Bigum, 2012, p. 22).
As an Education Technology Coach, I am often approached by teachers wanting to buy the 'new big thing'. For me, it is important that our school doesn't just jump on board with purchasing things to 'keep up with the Jones'. Rather, take the time to trial it, see what the pros and cons are before purchasing and rolling out to the whole school. This helps to slow the cycle. It is important to note how a new piece of technology will change the experience of what already exists with a focus on how is it going to improve teaching and learning (Bigum, 2012, p.26).
I believe technology is enhancing the way I teach in my classroom. From a productivity and organisational standpoint, I find myself feeling that technology has supported me in developing these areas. From a teaching standpoint, I have access to resources and information that I would not be able to access without technology. I can engage my students by showing them other parts of the world giving them first hand references instead of just a text to read. Students can also access information easily, share and connect with other students. My students are able to collaborate in school and from home on assignments using a variety of technology tools and resources. Having had access to so much technology for educational purposes, I would find it challenging to move to a system that did not embrace technology. Technology has allowed me to better my teaching practice so that my students have the best possible learning experience.
Bigum, C. (2012). Schools and Computers: Tales of a Digital Romance. Transformative Approaches to New Technologies and Student Diversity in Futures Oriented Classrooms. L. Rowan and C. Bigum, Springer Netherlands: 15-28.
Connectivism is defined by George Siemens as a way of gaining knowledge through your networks of others and their experiences (2005). He suggests learning is a continual process and that the focus should be more on how to learning than what you are learning yourself as part of his principles of connectivism (Bell, 2010). This learning theory was developed as previous learning theories (behaviourism, cognitivism, social constructivism) did not take into account the implications of technology on pedagogy. Connectivism focuses on having social connections as a way to develop actionable knowledge (Siemens, 2015).
I believe that in the 21st century we need to be sure that we are taking into account technology and the affordances it allows us when we look at learning for our students. From a connectivist perspective, teachers should be focusing on developing skills for our students to develop learning. While content is important, students can easily access content online if they are aware how to. Students need to know where and how to access a variety of online resources to find out the ‘what’ when they need it.(Siemens, 2005). Thus, teachers need to educate themselves on how to teach students these new skills.
As an educator, I value the need to be connected to other educators as a way to develop personally and professionally. Engaging with blogging and Twitter as a way of personal reflection has allowed me to connect with educators from around the globe. This has helped me continually improve my practice by gaining feedback and ideas from others. When I am faced with a problem, I often reach out on Twitter and instantly have a network of others who may have had similar experiences and different perspectives to shed light on what I am experiencing.
This idea of creating networks is also important for our students. Students networks may be significantly smaller due to age restrictions on many different online platforms. However, the idea of being connected and using your network in gaining access to various knowledge is important. I see this currently with our Year 6 students who are completing Exhibition as part of the Primary Year Primary (International Baccalaureate). Students are working with other group members who have varied experiences and knowledge. They are reaching out to different teachers at the school who have different skillsets depending on their research and action. They’ve emailed members of the community and different organisations as other sources of information and have gone to other schools even to gain ideas of what exhibition could be like. This provides students a better understanding of action and learning being continual, different people in your networks offer different perspectives and knowledge and that they don’t have to know everything to be successful, but how to gain the information they need. This social component of learning has allowed them to develop lifelong skills that are transferrable as they continue their education and build their network further.
Bell, F. (2010). Connectivism: Its place in theory-informed research and innovation in technology-enabled learning. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 12(3), 98-118.
Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, 2(1), 3-10.
I feel a combination of a social constructivist approach to learning in conjunction with connectivism is how I view the educational pedagogies I find most beneficial in practice. There is a need for students to construct their learning for a sense of ownership and engagement. However, the idea of the social aspect and connections is key with the growing digital age. Siemens (2005) suggests connectivism is a way to learn from other network and their experiences including technology to gain actionable knowledge.
Some of the new learnings I have had are:
1. Participatory technologies impact information environment greatly (Farkas, 2012, p. 82). Looking at the benefits of participatory technologies, it is clear that these tools have substantial benefit in the classroom. From increasing engagement and ownership to increased reflection and engaging in dialogue with others, students are truly developing the ability to construct new knowledge together (Farkas, p. 85). I believe that when students feel they are a part of the active learning process and it is made available for others to see, they will increase their effort, which in turn improves achievement as suggested in Farkas (p.85). In order for this collaborative approach to reflection to be successful, a constructivist and connectivist pedagogical approach are needed. Teachers need to change their pedagogy and teaching to allow for new technologies to transform their classroom.
2. There needs to be a change in information literacy instruction (Farkas, 2012, p. 82). With the change in the digital world to provide an increased wealth of resources to our students, we need to be thinking more critically as teachers about how we explicitly teach information literacy to help students become information literate (Farkas, p. 89). While we are becoming more connected, we also have to be more critical in analysing and evaluating the resources and knowledge we find (Farkas, p. 88). As teachers, we need to be instilling in our students the idea of online rights and privacy and how to support them in being safe and secure online. While participatory technologies have many benefits, we need to be aware of who has access to them and how they may engage in them. Teaching students how to change their settings to ensure the class only has access to their blogs may be a way to overcome some of these challenges as well as teaching students how to provide constructive feedback online. Thus, teaching transferable skills is key as our world of digital resources continues to grow (Farkas, p. 89). These conversations shouldn’t be happening in one classroom or in the library; rather the dialogue about information literacy belongs in each and every classroom (Farkas, p. 90).
Farkas, M. (2012). Participatory technologies, pedagogy 2.0 and information literacy. Library Hi Tech, 30(1), 82-94.
Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, 2(1), 3-10.
TPACK is a framework that supports the integration of technology for effective classroom teaching. It combines technological, pedagogical and content knowledge as a way of thinking to support teachers in ensuring the use of technology is appropriate, thoughtful and effective during the planning stages. As a technology coach, my expertise lies in technological/pedagogical knowledge, where I support teachers in integrating technology for their specific content in a specific context. It is also important that I balance when digital technologies are appropriate and maybe not so appropriate to ensure that teachers move beyond just using a tool.
It is not enough for teachers to use technology for the sake of using technology; rather, technology should allow new learning opportunities that would not have been possible before (Mishra & Koeler, 2008).This makes me think of the SAMR model.
Dr. Ruben Puentedura created this idea of SAMR model for technology integration to help teachers understand that technology can reach many levels of higher-order thinking and create opportunities for our students to use technology to do things that traditional methods failed to allow for. As technology use moves up the chart, it moves from enhancing the learning experience to truly transforming the experience for students. This is where we allow students to really push their thinking and abilities through the use of technology.
Some examples of each of the components of this model are listed below:
- Typing a story in a word document
- Completing an online task, print it and submit to the teacher
- Using Padlet as a wonder wall with students including images to enhance
- Text-to-speech function for students writing a paper
- Screencasting on the iPad to explain a mathematical concept
- Students using Edmodo to communicate online at home and at school
- Students bringing their stories to life by animating and recording voices
- Students creating an e-Portfolio full of videos, web 2.0 tools and documentation of experiences with reflections by self, peers, teachers and parents
For the SAMR model, it is understood that the use of technology may vary across all four but it is important for teachers to think about what the real purpose is of the technology. If teachers are only ever using technology for substitution, is this really a good use of technology? Would the students simply be able to not use technology and achieve the same desired learning outcomes? When we move towards modification and redefinition, we are allowing students to develop their critical thinking and creativity skills as they show their learning and understanding in new and complex ways. The more we think about technology integration through TPACK and SAMR the more our students will be able to have meaningful learning experiences.
When technology, pedagogy and content knowledge all exist, it is about understanding the balance with the ever changing technology to ensure that best practice of teaching is always being exemplified in the classroom (Koehler & Mishra, 2009).
Koehler, M., & Mishra, P. (2009). What is technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK)?. Contemporary issues in technology and teacher education, 9(1), 60-70.
Mishra & Koehler (2008). Keynote address [YouTube]. Available from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1iCPLTz7Z-Q
Younie (2006) suggests that the UK ICT implementation had many challenges at the micro level such as slow internet and lack of technology in schools. In an international school, this is very much the opposite. We have a plethora of resources available to use with quality internet speed, funding to support new technology initiatives, education technology coaches to support staff and students and access to a number of different platforms for technology. The biggest challenge at the school micro level is that we have comes back to teacher training. With all of this technology and the international school turnover rate, teachers are constantly needing to be trained and upskilled to use the technology we do have effectively. At times, I wonder if so much technology being available to staff can be overwhelming. My role as a technology coach is to support teachers in figuring out what technologies are best for which task to make the learning meaningful and the technology integration enhance their learning.
Thinking from my Canadian experience, it is sometimes challenging for schools to gain buy-in on policies that were created by individuals who are not on the ground working with children and the technology every day. There is often a disconnect between a policy being created at the macro level and practice at the micro level. Policy creating takes time and with the changing of technology so quickly, it is essential that a policy for ICT implementation is created with this mind to allow for innovation and change. It is also important for policies to be reviewed and reflected on a yearly (at minimum) to ensure that what is written fits the needs of what is happening in reality.
I think international schools are unique to government schools as the school has more control over the policies for education. This can be both good and bad. While we don’t have a government creating the policies for us, we do still need to answer to certain governing or accrediting bodies. Firstly, we have our board of directors that oversee what happens in terms of policies in the school. We are accredited by WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges), the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO) as an IB World School as well as EduTrust (Singapore governing body). Our policies and procedures need to meet the needs of all of our accrediting bodies. This can be tedious when each are slightly different while also creating policies that meet the individual needs of our school community. The Singapore government requires are quite different than an inquiry approach for the IBO, which can be challenging when creating policies. WASC and IBO are more similar in their accreditation processes and expectations of evidence, which makes creating policies at the school level easier when the accrediting bodies are aligned.
Our school looks to a lot of other schools who are similar to ours to see what they are doing. This greatly influences our own policies as we combine various policies to meet the needs of our community. While we borrow some, we also have to make sure our policies fit our specific environment and community. Therefore, we are constantly reviewing, adapting and ensuring that our policies are guiding us forward.
We do not have any ICT specific planning documents that we use. For next year, we are generating a large database of appropriate, tested and vetted technology resources for staff that support the different ICT skills in the PYP (International Baccalaureate, 2011) for teachers to reference. If the resource/software is not on the list, then they must apply through a Google Form explaining their rationale for wanting to use the resource and how it would be incorporated into their teaching and learning. This will help us gather more data on how and what teachers are using technology for in their classroom. In addition, our budget serves as an inventory of paid subscriptions and purchases every year. I also create various documents to keep a record of technology resources such as a spreadsheet with the various iPad apps stored on the iPads at different grade levels. Overall, I create a lot of my own planning documents for various tasks to demonstrate how I’m planning out technology integration across the Primary school so it’s been great to see some examples.
International Baccalaureate. (2011). The Role of ICT in the PYP. UK: International Baccalaureate.
Younie, S. (2006). Implementing government policy on ICT in education: Lessons learnt. Education & Information Technologies, 11(3/4), 385-400. doi:10.1007/s10639-006-9017-1
As technology becomes more readily available to the masses, students have more access to devices at home in addition to the classroom, leading to bring your own device (BYOD) models becoming a more viable option for schools to introduce. Schools should implement a BYOD programme to support student learning in a 21st-century classroom environment and specify the device the school has chosen for consistent learning experiences. When adopting a BYOD model, schools must look at a whole-school approach to learning and ensure policies, educational opportunities and effective infrastructure are in place for the success of the programme.
Adopting a BYOD model provides a school with the opportunity to cultivate a community of responsible learners in a safe educational environment. With the ability to connect online anywhere, anytime, it is normal for some hesitation about online safety (Roblyer & Doering, 2014, p. 15). However, a BYOD programme implemented in conjunction with a digital citizenship programme educates students on how to engage with their devices in a responsible and resilient manner. Schools should tailor their digital citizenship programme to their school’s needs while accessing resources such as Common Sense Media and MediaSmarts. Through this, students gain knowledge about cyberbullying, digital footprints, safety, security, information literacy and referencing (Common Sense Media, 2015). A school-wide acceptable use policy for devices should be created for all students to abide by to support the cultivation of a positive online community (Smith, Worrel-Burrus, Davis, Newman & William, 2014, p. 18).
A BYOD programme allows students to gain a sense of responsibility for their devices (Burns-Sardone, N., 2014, p. 192). This responsibility raises the expectations students have of themselves and how they conduct themselves online. Schools may wish to implement a BYOD programme beginning in middle school where students are at an age to handle caring for, transporting and maintaining an expensive device, and are more knowledgeable about appropriate online choices. Prior to this, a school should support technology integration through school-owned devices at the primary level.
In addition to a proactive approach with students, schools must critically analyse their infrastructure to ensure it supports their BYOD programme. A benefit to BYOD is that the onus of the cost of the device is on the student and not the school, allowing school funding to be allocated for internet, resources and infrastructure for the programme. With any BYOD programme, the school needs to place high importance on training teachers in the device, online safety, learning platforms and effective technology integration to support students appropriate use, which ensures quality teaching practice throughout the school (Digital Education Advisory Group, 2013, p. 7). In addition, allocated IT support personnel can enhance the adoption and implementation of BYOD. These staff members have an important role in regards to protecting student data, connectivity, upgrades, firewalls and maintenance. A BYOD programme is effective when continually reviewed and necessary modifications are made to keep current with changing technology.
A BYOD model changes the class environment through ease of mobility, access to online resources, and assessment tools (Digital Education Advisory Group, p.5). Through the many available online resources, student learning can be differentiation to best meet the needs of the students (Roblyer & Doering, 2014, p. 26). No longer is there a need for one-size fits all learning where students can be extended or supported with a few clicks and inquiries can flourish. Because of this, learning becomes more personalized and student-centred, increasing student engagement and performance (Digital Education Advisory Group, p.7). When students each have their own device, they become active participants in learning in school and at home (Ackerman & Krupp, 2012, p. 35).
Through the use of technology, students develop 21st-century skills that are transdisciplinary. BYOD provides students access to the tools and resources to collaborate online through programmes such as Google Apps for Education and Skype. BYOD helps students to easily inquire into their queries, allowing the teacher to transition to the role of a facilitator (Pangos, n.d). Students are able to use technology to create content using multimedia and higher-order thinking while using various resources to stay organised and communicate ideas in a multitude of ways.
There will always be challenges such as student safety online, the cost for students, ensuring the infrastructure can handle the adopted programme, professional development with BYOD programmes. However, all of these can be overcome with appropriate planning, guidelines and policies, and frequent review to ensure the all-encompassing programme continues to best support the needs of students.
Technology in education is evitably growing with BYOD leading the way (Thomson, 2012 as cited in Chen, Li, Hoang, Lou, 2013, p. 2). By allowing a BYOD programme to support an inquiry-based, constructivist approach to learning, students become responsible digital citizens and schools look closely at the effectiveness of their infrastructure. Students learn valuable 21st-century skills, create, curate content and collaborate globally. Together with a whole-school approach for next-generation learning, a BYOD programme provides students with an educational experience that is highly engaging, challenging and preparing them for their future.
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Chen, H., Li, J., Hoang, T., & Lou, X. (2013). [Working paper]. Security challenges of BYOD: a security education, training and awareness perspective,1-8.
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Digital Education Advisory Group. (2013). Beyond the classroom: a new digital education for young Australians in the 21st century. Retrieved from http://apo.org.au/files/Resource/deag_beyond_the_classroom_2013.pdf
Pangos, T. (n.d). The Future of Education: BYOD in the Classroom. Retrieved from http://www.wired.com/insights/2013/09/the-future-of-education-byod-in-the-classroom
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Smith, M. M., Worrell-Burrus, P., Davis, M. K., Newman, M. J., & William, K. (2014). Are we ready for BYOD?. Journal of Effective Schools Project, 21,16-23.
Cuban, Kirkpatrick & Peck (2001) suggested that the majority of teachers in US are not computer users. If teachers aren’t using the tools, then the impact on teaching and learning is not present. In my international school setting, this is not the case at all. All of our teachers are provided a laptop when they begin with our school and receive training on them. There is an expectation that attendance, grading, reports, planning are all on our LMS systems. Thus, technology use is not an option rather a mandate as part of being an employee at the school. In terms of teaching and learning, much of this is also done digitally, however, not mandated in the same way. That being said, with digital resources for classes, teaching teams can share the workload easily by sharing resources with a click of a button. Teachers can view student work using tools such as Teacher Dashboard easily to support them with their work without having to take bags of workbooks home to review.
Cuban, Kirkpatrick & Peck (2001) suggested we need to know more than how often students are turning on computers but rather what students are doing with them while they are on. If it is simple drill and kill practice all of the time, the impact on learning will be minimal as they are not developing skills that are transferable in other scenarios.
As I was reading about Cuban, Kirkpatrick & Peck (2001) study, I felt our school had much more access to technology than the schools in the study who had computer labs. With a 1-to-1 programme at our school, each student has access to connectivity and software at all times whether at home or school, thus, increasing the use of computers. Teachers do not have to worry about booking the lab or if the internet connection will be working. This allows for technology to be used at a moment’s notice in class or left to the side of the table when not needed. The 1-to-1 programme allows for technology to just be another tool for students to use if deemed necessary.
Somekh (2004) outlines 4 examples of institutional resistance to change in the article. ICT is often seen as a separate subject rather than being integrated into every subject. Teachers often use a one-size fits all, linear model where they start from scratch and teach all the skills rather than differentiating for the needs of the students who are well advanced. Students with access to technology is compounded by the kinds of ICT use. Finally schools restrict access to a number of websites out of fear of unknown and need to be extra cautious in schools. What we have learnt is, that in order for technology to be effective, it needs to become a part of the human activity (p. 177).
I think there will always be resistance to new technologies entering into the educational realm. Geoffrey Moore’s book ‘Crossing the Chasm’ (2001) outlines that there is always going to be a bell curve when it comes to technology starting from technology enthusiasts who are willing to try anything as soon as it is available to the skeptics who are the last to give in to technology initiatives if ever. I actually think this is a good thing. It is good to have a variety of perspectives and varying adopting times. It gives the visionaries time to try it out and imagine where it can go which convinces the pragmatists and conservatives to make the transition once there is some proof it will work. When I run trials with new technology tools, this is exactly how i approach it. I access those most willing to try, see what the results are, reflect and analyse if this is the best move forward as a school and use this data to help move the school forward.
In my school, technology is not just the responsibility of one teacher. Rather it is the expectation that all teachers teach ICT within their classrooms. As the Technology Coach, I support teachers in doing this but at the end of the day, we all need to weave ICT into our lessons when appropriate. This takes the ownership of ICT off just a single specialist, just like we are all language teachers to an extent. Integration of subjects has become the norm not that anomaly. As a school who uses a transdisciplinary approach to learning through the IB framework, students have all subjects being intertwined.
As I am reading the articles by Somekh (2004), I wonder what his findings would be today 12 years later. Cuban, L., Kirkpatrick, H., & Peck, C. (2001)’s article is now about 15 years after it was written. What are the more recent studies arguing about the impact or lack thereof with technology? Is there really as much discrepancy between home and school? When my students were doing something at home (ie 3D printing), we found a way to bring it into the classroom. I let the students drive their own learning and incorporated the tools they wanted to use. I use Edmodo to mimic Facebook for privacy, age restrictions and safety but still allowing them the social aspect of media. With a student who struggled with creating content and developing his e-Portfolio, I used a mobile device with Blogger to mimic what he was doing with Instagram on his own time. Are these the same tools they are using at home - no. But they are replicating their uses at home in an appropriate and safe way for educational purposes. Because I was making the effort for them, they were also making the effort and I saw improved work quality and quantity. Technology can have a positive impact on learning, community and teaching if used in authentic, meaningful and innovative ways.
Cuban, L., Kirkpatrick, H., & Peck, C. (2001). High access and low use of technologies in high school classrooms: Explaining an apparent paradox.American Educational Research Journal, 38(4), 813–834.
Moore, G. A. (1991). Crossing the chasm: Marketing and selling technology products to mainstream customers. New York, N.Y.: HarperBusiness.
Somekh, B. (2004). Taking the sociological imagination to school: an analysis of the (lack of) impact of information and communication technologies on education systems. Technology, pedagogy and education, 13(2), 163-179.