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:
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.
Me & My Mac by Martin Bommel found on Flickr, Creative Commons Licensed
Mac vc PC sords by ComputerFixerKid found on Flickr, Creative Commons Licensed
Scot Floyd on establishing a successful BYOD strategy found on YouTube, uploaded by Teaching learning group