Living in a Mixed World

Working in an environment with no laptops meant I had to figure out how to relate to the readings.

This week’s COETAIL assignment to reflect on our use of laptops in our classrooms was a challenge as my school does not have a bank of laptops that teachers and students can use, instead, it relies upon computer labs to address student technological outcomes.  However, I found the readings and suggestions helpful when I stopped and thought about how they can be applied in an environment without laptops.

For example the YIS Tech coffee morning Living with Laptops was incredibly useful once I got past the label of laptop and started applying it to desktop computers, smart phones, tablets and mp3 players.  I was able to see how the tips and suggestions provided as applicable to an array of electronic tools. For example, the readings suggested installing time management applications to prevent wasting time.  After some research, I discovered that most of these applications have desktop equivalents.

Though I may not have access to a bank of laptops, I do have access to a computer lab and I also allow my students to bring their own devices that they can use for research or working on projects.  This year I have seen students bring in iPhones, iPads, iPods, Windows computers, and MacBooks.  This mixture of technology has proved interesting as my students and I had to figure out how to work with different operating system and negotiate guidelines regarding classroom use of the devices.  Below are two suggestions for things to keep in mind if you are working in a space that uses a variety of different technology tools:

Should it really be a battle? I prefer to have both as it forces my students to think about file compatibility?

Windows vs Mac:

Don’t restrict yourself to just one.

I admit I’m a Mac person working in an environment in which several of my students use them but the school uses Windows.  While this may prove frustrating for some, I have found it to be a unique challenge and one that forces my students to think about working across platforms.  Early on in the year some of my students would simply give up in frustration when faced with an issue of file compatibility (Pages vs Word, iMovie vs Movie Maker).  Often they would end up denouncing the computer they were unfamiliar with and come to me to help them.  Over time, I could see some of my students begin to connect the dots.  Later on in the year one of my students asked me a question about how to make a movie on his iPhone, edit it in Movie Maker, and then export to iMovie so the his partner could put on some finishing touches.  This question nearly did me in and I asked him to check back with me tomorrow.  Not five minutes later he came up to me with a solution to his problem.  I was so proud of him.  Not only was he learning how to make movies while meeting specific educational outcomes but he was figuring out how to work across platforms and starting to analyze and understand the complexity of file types across platforms.

When to Bring Your Own:

When I started out the year I never imagined that I would be allowing my students to bring their own devices and use them in class.  However, during our first unit of study one of my students kindly asked if he could bring in his MacBook so that he could work on his leadership project.   I initially hesitated but he explained that he wanted to create a movie to insert into the presentation that he was making for the assembly.  Eventually I agreed and after clearing it with a few people I told him he could.  As the year has gone on more and more of my students started bringing their own devices to use in the classroom.  This has led to some interesting discussions on when and where to use our devices.  I am fortunate in that my students and I have agreed that when it is necessary for their work they may use the device.   In the early days one or two students pushed the boundaries, however there has not been any issue with students misusing their devices.  For example one day one student was caught using his phone to play games.  As a class we talked about this incident and how it negatively impacted the work that the rest of the group was doing.  The message got through to them.

Image Credits:

Me & My Mac by Martin Bommel found on Flickr, Creative Commons Licensed

Mac vc PC sords by ComputerFixerKid found on Flickr, Creative Commons Licensed

Video Credits:

Scot Floyd on establishing a successful BYOD strategy found on YouTube, uploaded by Teaching learning group




Filed under COETAIL, Course 4

3 responses to “Living in a Mixed World

  1. Brendan,
    I think its absolutely wonderful that you have this attitude of Bring Your own Device. Even more pleasing was hearing how your student`s embraced it. I can only imagine the plethora of devices and the astonished excitement of the students as they went about their daily creativity engagements. Did you have any difficulties clearing this with school management? Also were the parents on board with this and did they expect the school to provide technical support? That`s one of the issues we think about at my school is how much responsibility do the tech guys have if students start bringing their own devices. Anyway, thanks for sharing buddy.

    • Thank you for the compliment Travis. I must admit it was the kids who pushed the issue for me. When I went to the admin I told them what the kids wanted to do and prepared responses to questions I knew they would ask. The parents and the students seem to appreciate the fact that I am one teacher doing something different and thus have not relied on me for technical support. Yes they’ve asked me to help them figure out how to do things or to recommend programs but if they mention something actually requires fixing, I will tell them to have their parents fix it or take it to a professional.

      For a school wide policy on BYD it becomes tricky. I think the level of support a school should supply depends on how they view the tools. If the school is saying “if you have them you may bring them,” support should mainly be given for showing them how to do things. However, if the school policy is along the lines of “you must bring your own device to school,” then there needs to be a greater level of support provided.

  2. Awesome! So glad you are actively taking risks, and allowing your students to do the same. It is fantastic to see how they can problem solve quicker than we can often comprehend the problem. This is the kind of skill set I would like to see in all students! Well done!

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