Wednesday, February 1, 2012

BYOD revisited

Yesterday, my daughter, who is working on a radio journalism piece about librarians (?!?) for WERS' You are Here, asked me what makes me look forward to coming to work in the morning. I answered something that hinted at the mystery each day brings. From the second I wake up until I shut down my computer at night, I have no idea what conversations will transpire, and where they will take my thinking.

So this morning, I logged on to find an inquiry on the Connecticut school librarians' listserv about BYOD policies in K-12 schools, as I composed my response, I though it might have a place here in this blog. I haven't written about this in a while, and my thinking is not shifting, ad much as expanding. So here goes.

We have BYOD. Students are not (yet) required to bring their own. We are still exploring 1:1 as a long term option. Many stakeholders feel pretty strongly about one v. the other.

Ultimately, we want more computing power, but the philosophical question is whether we want every kid to have 24/7 access to digital technology for consumption purposes, or for creation purposes (this is more expensive, but it is also better aligned with our ICT program). The answer to that question will determine how we procede - 1:1 tablet or laptop, BYOD, or whatever unknown the near future will deliver. The exploration is fun, though. You get to ask big questions and involve students in the conversation ;-).

In the meantime, we encourage students to use what they have. For example, yesterday, I encouraged three classes download the Destiny Quest app (online catalog) in class. They were embarking on a new research project. About 1/3 to 1/2 the class were able to download it and use it instead of COW laptops (many of which were not charged by the time we got them). Instant start up is VERY compelling in a 48 minute period class, and once kids sign in  for the first time, they don't have to do it again. Not only that, but they were able to renew outstanding loans on their devices the day before their report cards were due (we withhold report cards for students with outstanding obligations)!

Even the classroom teacher (who, in the past, has balked at my suggestion to have kids use their MP3 players and phones in class) thought this was a productive move.

We recently surveyed our kids and learned that 41% of those who bring connected, app-ready devices to school have NOT downloaded an eReader (iBook, Kindle, Nook, Google Books, Kobo, Biblio, Overdrive, etc..)! Kids need training on how to use their devices for productivity. Halo, they've got. But Macbeth? No way (even though it is probably on every high school's required reading list and it is  FREE)!

We do have students "register" their devices. Instructions and the form are linked to our library website under Tech support. They can do it from anywhere, any time they wish to. Requests are "pushed" on Tuesdays, and Thursdays (and sometimes more frequently, like right after the holidays).

Our AUP/RUA: If you look very carefully at the end of the first paragraph, you will see a vague reference to devices. That's all it takes! We've been doing this since kids started bringing their devices to school. My "brand new" iPod was stolen in 2006. I am sure that happens on occasion, but not to the extent where it is seriously impacting administrative duties. I think TI-84 calculators still hold the lead in that realm. Our kids never take their hands off their devices. They are pretty hard to swipe!

The ideal tools for learning (consumption AND creation), in my opinion: school-provided MacBook AND student owned app-ready/WIFI connected device. Hey, that's just in fantasy land, but here's to dreaming! I know of one public school (not in CT) that has that, and they are considering adding 1:1 iPads next year! Wow!

To participate in deeper conversations on the subject, please join me and my Twittter friends, Jeremy and Kate Angoff, Steve Hayes, and others for the first #BYOTchat on Thursday, February 2, 2012 from 9-10, EST! 

Happy pondering!


  1. I could not find the "registration" form on the site. Would be good to see what you have.

  2. It's called WIFI request under tech support