BYOD For Dummies

I hope you weren’t offended by the “dummy” thing. I know you’re really not a dummy. However, there is something “dumb” going on… All this BYOD hate is dumb, especially if you’ve never tried it.

I was inspired to write this post in response to Gary Stager’s ‘BYOD: Worst Idea of the 21st Century?’ post. Thanks, Gary, for the edu-banter. It’s definitely worth thinking about.

At NBCS, we’ve been implementing BYOD from Yr 5 and up for 3 years now.  This year, we’ve started BYOD in Yr 4 as well. Our BYOD journey certainly hasn’t been without it’s glitches but that’s to be expected. Overall, it’s worked well. I certainly wouldn’t have it any other way.

Here’s the thing – in our setting, BYOD works. It works really well. Here’s why and how it works:

 

Different Strokes Work For Different Folks

Truth: nothing in life is equal. Someone will always have nicer shoes, cars, digital devices than I do. So what? It’s about time we all got used to that idea. BYOD is not about inequality; it’s about recognising that everyone is different.

In addition, anyone who uses a raft of digital devices chooses to use them for different experiences and purposes. For example; I use my iPhone for daily use, my iPad for traveling, my iPod in the car and my PC for word-processing. Different devices suit different  people and different circumstances. This is exactly the kind of vital information that students are able to find out when they have the freedom of BYOD (or, even better, BYODs).

 

Real People Use Devices… Everyday

de·vice

 [dih-vahys] 

noun

1. a thing made for a particular purpose; an invention or contrivance, especially a mechanical or electrical one.

What computers/iPads kids bring to school are digital devices. Enough said.
Education Has a Price
Good education costs. Anything of value does. Imagine the depth of conversations, research and persuasion that inherently occurs within families purchasing a device (or devices) for BYOD. It’s the perfect learning scenario – people become informed because they need to make a good investment.  What better investment  could someone make than in their child’s education?
BYOD is One Tool
The implementation of BYOD doesn’t constrict the learning process… nor does it widen it. Pedagogy, not tools, affect learning processes. There is new  digital languages need to be learned and this must be addressed. BYOD is a tool to assist 21st Century learning and skills.
BYOD does not Affect Teacher Well-being
BYOD at NBCS
Can new things be stressful? Sure. Can new things be exciting? Sure. Can new things actually assist relaxation? Sure. The effect of change depends on the perspective of the person experiencing the change. BYOD might be stressful if you let it be so …or … it could be exciting. Essentially, teachers affect teacher well-being.
Through the implementation of BYOD, I’ve become much more adept and confident int he use of a variety of digital devices, not more stressed as some might suggest.
Overall, BYOD is great. I can’t wait until we move towards Bring Your Own Digital DeviceS!
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Skype and the Wider World

The world is an increasingly smaller place. Yet, the more I explore it, the larger it seems to be. As our world gets larger, it’s sometimes difficult to know our part in it. What do I have to contribute? How can my gifts help others? I am constantly confronted by the need to help my students know what’s going on in the world, wonder about it, recognise the similarities and celebrate our differences.

Earlier this year, we shared a video story with our 5th/6th graders about a student their age living in Syria. It showed his desperation to attend school and his frustration that the current situation stops him from getting the education he deserves.

Here is the story from ABC’s Foreign Correspondent:

Ibrahim’s War

After watching this documentary, our students desperately wanted to find out more. They wanted to help Ibrahim. “Perhaps we could send him some books…” mused one student. “Does he have access to the Internet?” they asked. (NOTE: We did attempt to contact Ibrahim through Foreign Correspondent but it was not to be).

This got me thinking about the technology at our finger tips. Skype is a fantastic tool for connecting with others. Naturally, it lends itself to connecting classrooms as well. I went to a Teach Meet in a couple of months ago where I listened to a PLN colleague share how he skyped a class in Turkey whilst his class were learning about WW1 and Gallipoli. How about that for adding in a real-world connection. There’s a lesson those students will never forget!

Heard of Mystery Skype? This is an initiative by Skype Education in which classes can Skype each other and by a series of questions, establish the classes location (well, that’s just step 1). The learning from this could be endless.

Make 2014 the year for spreading tolerance, understanding and acceptance.

Hour of Code – Why I Did It and Why You (and your students) Need To

I’m assuming that if you missed Hour of Code, you are living in the middle of nowhere with no internet access… possibly, you are living on the moon. Hour of Code was an initiative by code.org to help students understand code.
Our students don’t know what the Internet is. Fact.
I still remember when I learned that the Internet was made up of ones and nones. This was a HUGE revelation to me – Prior to this, I had not even thought about how the Internet worked or what it was. How many of our students don’t even know how the Internet works? To a certain extent, none of our students really get this. Heck – I still don’t really even get it.
Remember when computing in schools was newish… in the early 90s and we all learned Logo? Logo is/was the building blocks of coding. Little did we know it but we were learning to code.
The Code.org website was a range of activities to help your students from a very basic level of coding to an advanced level of coding.
Perhaps, you might even consider making coding practice part of your students’ weekly routine.

Preparing Students for Web 2.0 with Object Lessons

At NBCS, we’re about to embark on BYOD for Stage 2. Having been part of the introduction of BYOD in Stage 3, I’ve been considering how we can do it this time around with less drama.

I’m not really a censorist* (*word I just made up;) but I do firmly believe that students need a “toolbox” of understandings, skills and processes to help them to best utilise Web 2.0.
Before even getting online in 2014, I really want my students to understand some vital aspects of the Web.
1. Whatever is written on the Internet is a permanent version of ‘I was ‘ere 2014’.
Although I’ve tried to explain to students that ‘…whatever is written online is like permanent sky-writing that follows the writer around everywhere’, students don’t really seem to get it. To understand the permanence of what’s written online, in Term 1 I’m going to give each student a graffiti tile that will be on display in our learning space. I’m also going to give each student a permanent marker when I tell them that they may write anything on the tile knowing that it will stay there for the rest of the year reminding all visitors of their legacy.
I wonder what my students will write…
2. Web Storage and #Hashtags
The language of hashtags may be fleeting but it is also a helpful way to organise and subsequently search for documents. Whether it be online or offline, I’ll be teaching my students how to tag each aspect of the their. At a workshop last year, I saw an example of this from Tom Barrett in which students tagged each piece of work with 3 things: the overall KLA ie. #Maths, the sub-area ie. #SubtractionWithTrading and their progress ie. #IGetIt! What a fabulous way to help students reflect and mentally file their learning journey.
3. Learning Through Play
Play is an area of learning that has been highly under-utilised in recent times. When I reflect on how I have become familiar with Web 2.0 tools, there is one major factor; I’ve taken the time to play and explore that tool. Experimenting with Web 2.0 tools is interesting and fun. How often do we allow or encourage our students to play with a tool once we’ve introduced it? I began the practice last year of whenever I heard about a new Web 2.0 tool (ie. Zondle.com), I’d pop it on Edmodo, ask my students to play with the tool and then discuss the tool in our class meetings. It was a great way to develop critical literacy as well as see how attuned my students’ IT skills were. Sometimes, students would even craft an email to developers with feedback.
4. iFiltering
No web-protection software or filter is 100% effective. Unsavoury content is going to pop up when children are on the Web whether we like it or not. It’s vital that students are taught what to do when they come across content that is in appropriate. I’m sick and tired of children being told to “ignore” things that make them uncomfortable. That is unacceptable. I teach my students to do a number of things when they are confronted with inappropriate content:
  • If it’s a website, students should copy/paste the url into an email to their teacher or the IT Department. If they have a cyber-safety help button, they should then use it.
  • If it’s an image (perhaps in an image search), students should email their teacher or the IT Department with a screen-shot of the page and the search word/s used.
  • If students come across another student interacting with inappropriate content, they should report it… anonymously if need be.

5. Web 2.0 Tools Have Specific Purposes
As with a normal tool box, each tool should be used for their specific purpose. It’s difficult for our students to determine and understand when and how to use each specific tool. Just like students have different coloured pencils, rulers and sharpeners for various tasks, web-tools are also used for different purposes. By agreeing on a “tool-name” ie. Edmodo could be a cork notice board, students can relate the tools to real life. By using a social-media-esque tool such as, Edmodo, we can teach students how to post appropriately. Edmodo is helpful because students can’t contact each other privately, all communication must go on the wall. By asking ‘Would you stick that on the notice board?’, we help students to discern what is appropriate or not. To help students understand the Edmodo boundaries, we agreed that all posts should be about school only and that all posts should have correct spelling and punctuation. Students deemed it acceptable that posts outside these boundaries would be deleted. Eventually, I became just another participant on Edmodo and they monitored the appropriateness.
Just in case I’ve lulled all of us into a false sense of security and we all begin to think that by implementing these ideas, students won’t still make mistakes with Web 2.0, we’re not only in trouble but we’re wrong. They will. And it’s how you, me and the learning community deals with these mistakes that will really help students to use Web 2.0 effectively.

Smile

Whatever it is that makes you smile… it’ll probably make your students smile, too.  Smiling requires no resources, IT connections, extra support or wifi and yet, it’s something we often forget to bring into the classroom. I’d say that it’s the most important.

Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.  ~Mother Teresa

After watching a TED talk on the hidden power of smiling by Ron Gutman, I was inspired. Actually, I was shocked to learn that smiling relieves stress, boosts your immune system, lowers blood pressure, releases endorphins, makes you live longer and makes you appear more attractive (we all need some of that 😉 ).

Thus, I thought I’d throw in a couple of resources to get you and your students smiling:

1. In Mathematics – Funny charts – http://izismile.com/2009/03/16/funny_charts_40_images.html Some of these aren’t appropriate for students but it’s easy enough to use a screen capture tool for the funny charts. Wouldn’t your students just love to create their own! Also, check out GraphJam.com.

2. In English, there are few funny tools that you can use. Only competent spellers will find ‘spelling fails’ funny. Also, have a look at www.theoatmeal.com – it often has funny comics about all things grammar, spelling and punctuation. Again, monitor for appropriateness.

There are also random quizzes on The Oatmeal such as; How to check if your family are trying to eat you.

 

 

 

 

 

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment or the smallest act of caring, all of which we have the potential to turn a life around. ~Leo F Buscaqlia  

 

Have you seen the BBC Talking Animals clips on Youtube? My students ask to view these on nearly a daily basis.

Other great clips to check out on Youtube are any advertisements made by T Mobile. They are very clever. What a fabulous deign and tech task to work out how some of the ads are constructed (search = Angry Birds T Mobile).

3. Science – I bet you’re thinking that there’s nothing funny about science! WRONG! Have you seen Mythbusters lately? Hilarious. Also, google-search science bloopers and laugh away.

4. Society studies – One of the funniest aspects of human social behaviour is body language. Alan Pease is an Aussie expert in body language. His website – http://www.peaseinternational.com/ gives great tips for analysing BL and he has some funny Youtube clips as well.

5. History – Much of the funny stuff about history happens because it seems out of context. Check out www. cracked.com/history for some comparative hilarity.

6. Geography – Excellent books such as; Molvania (http://www.jetlagtravel.com/molvania/) show an excellent take on The Lonely Planet guides. Have students create their own about a  made-up country. I love www.informationisbeautiful.com for a fun look at the number one thing each country in the world is good at.

7. The Arts – Really…? Do I need to even go there? So much humour in drama, music and visual art!

Naturally, the list goes on.

So… smile with your students… daily!

I did just by creating this post!