BYOD: Bring Your Own… Device.
This week I have some loosely connected thoughts about technology at the School.
This year we are piloting a BYOD initiative in the Senior School, in which a number of teachers are planning their courses on the assumption that all the students have a technology device of certain capabilities with them. In a survey last spring, we discovered that almost 100% of students possess a suitable device, with the minimum specifications (this would include almost all laptops, netbooks, tablets, iPads and smartphones), that will allow them to perform a surprisingly long list of operations on the School network, or on a web browser. We are making appropriate devices available to those students who don’t have them. So far this experiment is proceeding both smoothly and successfully.
Our expectation, if all goes well, is that we will want all students to have a suitable device for next School year, so that in making their technology purchases over the next ten months they can keep this in mind. The big surprise so far? How adept students are with their smartphones, and how effective these devices are at performing the tasks teachers expect. In the Junior School we have quite a significant iPad project that is also working very successfully, and in the Middle School we have a combined approach using iPads, school-supplied devices and students’ own devices. One step at a time.
Today Nancy Richards, Director of Junior School, made the important point that these devices are being used as tools, not as teachers. Teachers, of course, are irreplaceable.
Our educational technology work has intensified this year, supported by our new Educational Technology Specialist, Maureen Hann. Technology, we believe, has matured to the point where it is genuinely useful in education, and responds increasingly elegantly to the curiosity, critical thinking and creativity of young minds.
Young minds? Older minds too. If you want to follow some of the discussions that I and my colleagues are having about educational issues, then follow us on Twitter. My Twitter address is @snowdenrt – you can simply click on my address at the right hand side of this page, or if you are new to Twitter, go and sign up. A simple way of expanding your list of SMUS people to follow could be to check those I follow, where you will find a few of my SMUS colleagues. Go ahead – dip your toe in the water, or dive right in.