There is at once a sensibility and futility of Bring Your Own Technology for schools.
The practical sensibility is that it would end the increasingly difficult situation of supporting the costs of maintaining organisation sized collections of technology. Particularly within the rapidly changing computing world, maintaining it, keeping it trouble free and doing so while most users have possibly more powerful equipment at home or certainly more personalised and learner oriented.
The futility is that we can’t use them properly. Schools simply use computers are replacements for text books, school worksheets, library or encyclopedias. That doesn’t need personalisation, it certainly doesn’t need the most powerful. What it does need is to keep the status quo of schools who are under the demands of external assessment systems, which have no way of recogising or allocating a number grade to student work.
If we were to start allowing students to be creative in their responses to assignments and projects, if we were to give creative options to students in how they approached their learning, then the traditional way of recognising achievement of syllabus content would be next to impossible. Teachers are not trained or experienced in this area, they haven’t encountered the capacities of technology when applied to learning.
How would they allocate a grade to student work? How would they condense an entire semester’s work into a pithy sentence or two in the end of term report? How would they be able to successfully designate dux through a mark with an accuracy of 2 or 3 decimal places?
The pipe dream of students bringing and being responsible for their own technology would be extraordinary. We’d have to change assessment schemes. We’d have to find some way of recognising individuality. We’d have to find some way of coping with students who learn differently from the ‘norm’. We’d have to make provision for teaching them applications skills on programs that class teachers may not have even seen. We’d have to hand over some power and not assume teachers have all the answers. Ludicrous!
Disregarding all the usual issues with publishers dragging the chain on making their school text books available in various soft copies…
We often find introducing a different option is a slow process – a bit like introducing Broccoli to kids. This article reifies for me some of the issues I bump into.
It explains a little why kids think the way they do. The myth of digital native is long proven to be nonsense. Their outlook is determined directly by those who show them the possibilities. Our influence as teachers – even as supposed digital migrants is huge. They will take their lead (sometimes unconsciously) from how we model things. Our reliance on text books will influence them. Our limited use of ICT will limit them. Our extensive use and ‘have a try’ approach gives them a belief that there are alternative ways, new ways options and even if we try and fail, it’s a good thing.
We are where they find things out. I wonder if the idea that alpha males taking to e-book formats more readily than girls is because teachers consciously or otherwise treat them differently. There’s a PhD in there somewhere…
Work continues on the Yr 6 (Et. Al.) Digital Thingamabob course. Still no resolution on quite what to call it. But that’s less important than making sure the coverage is appropriate.
The focus remains on producing students who can use a laptop to support their learning; to be creative; to produce responses to assignments and homework in a broader manner than those with only the three Rs. And almost as importantly to make nettizens of them so that they, A) don’t make fools of themselves on-line and B) conversely make themselves look good on-line.
Here’s the outline so far; Digital literacy or here for the non-pictorials; http://sirchriss.com/?page_id=166
The support material is also underway and as yet I’ve not found anything (Creative Commons or otherwise) that would be a suitable option simply to insert into the course structure, without almost as much modification as starting from scratch. Perhaps I’m being too picky or contrary.
I have begun to write a course for my Year 6 class.
This is proving to be difficult and I might end up producing a lot of it on the fly.
It must dovetail with the regular curriculum, hopefully be a little in front so that when they need computing skills to produce something a little beyond the regular essay-type assignments, they think in terms of digital storytelling or take a multimedia approach.
I also want to avoid handing them worksheets and paper based material (I’m an advocate of gracefully grandfathering all text books).
This must be partly self exploration and mostly practical.
It should make them competent in the 9 elements of digital literacy at least those pertinent to 11 year olds. And in context of, making the technology they have part of their creative world, not just a tool to Google and word process with. Their own online protection is primarily important and as such they may end up using social networks such as Facebook or something similar. At least they’ll have a chance to learn how to use it sensibly and to their advantage, rather than stumble and post inappropriate pictures and comments. It must cover many of the common Web 2.0 tools we take for granted (Twitter, Bogs, Wikis, Delicious, Etherpad Etc.)
Here’s the extent of the thought process so far.
Digital literacy course
Comments and constructive input welcome