SAMR, Collaborative Inquiry & Tech enabled Learning

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Earlier this year I began a collaborative teacher inquiry that would set up a technological framework for supporting literacy in the lives of our students, and increasing knowledge.

My framework fit very nicely with Ruben Puentedura’s SAMR model. The following is an example of one way I am incorporating the SAMR into literacy.

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Different Entry Points into Learning

SAMR

What is the SAMR? Framework for integrating technology into practice. Possible entry points. Just an organizational principle, but does not have to follow this plan. Just suggestions/framework, then we can decide where we want to go next. Examples embedded.

S: Substitution –

Taking the literacy already being done with the Forest of Reading and substituting what students are already doing with traditional literacy, with  for example, reflections on a blog, book trailer on iMovie (if you have access to an iPad) or book talk on Prezi. Any web-based platform accessible from school laptops.  Other ideas??
A: Augmentation –

Include something new – enhance the presentation with audio, images, links, sound effects, animations, background music etc.
M: Modification –

Elicit feedback from other students in the class – tweeting the information and commenting to each other. Sharing blog posts, tweeting links to prezi for book talk, etc. other ideas??
Sharing tweets of blogs and links etc. with other students and teachers, authors, illustrators, publishers, Ontario Library Association to make more connections.
R: Redefinition –

Previously unimaginable
Perhaps using Google Hangouts to connect with other students at other schools and teach them how to do the same thing
Students can see themselves as the creators and producers of their skills and their work

My framework included a blog, website, and twitter accounts: @SCDSBforest and @SCDSBbookclubs, and now also @forestofreading as the organizational structures in cyberspace. A way to organize connections between students and knowledge across diverse communities, environments, cultures, and people. A technology supported learning environment and growing connections between students and staff that would help students to step outside of the micro-cultures that exist within our classrooms, and find their voices and passions.

We used twitter, blogs, iMovie, and held an online book club on Skype between 2 different schools within the same school board, facilitated by @mswift with subsequent google form data.

But the technology was applied to an already ‘well-oiled literacy-machine’, with the purpose of not just incorporating technology-enabled learning environments to our literacy programs, but also to add opportunities for promoting student voice.

More importantly however, I believe that literacy is directly connected with knowledge building and knowledge creation. This is because literacy is designed to support students to organize information in meaningful ways that creates new knowledge. It is important to move beyond the technology, and address the key pedagogical traits that we must apply to help us truly understand whether students are able to retrieve and apply their knowledge in meaningful ways. It is also essential to provide the virtual structures to help organize the entire literacy process.

Literacy has the potential to go far beyond book knowledge and basic literacy skills. There are opportunities and possibilities through technology that can help with the integration of more complex tasks that foster knowledge building and development.

Social & Emotional Development

There are additional opportunities for linking the social and emotional development as well. Opportunities for the students to connect with the characters and storylines, and then in turn use technology to connect with the creators of the characters and stories, other students from diverse backgrounds, and other educators, the list goes on. Then, students are able to share personal connections, and pulling together the different pieces of knowledge from various aspects of their lives and create new knowledge.

This also promotes digital citizenship.

I also believe that through the use of technology, we can supplant positive interactions and collaborative environments that may be lacking in our own classroom micro-cultures – one classroom, one teacher, and one group of students will never be the best environment for all students. Therefore, I believe that we can increase the likelihood of helping students to increase their personal learning, growth, understanding of themselves, and ultimately their performance in multiple literacies.

Please check us out! Get involved! Let us know what you think!

Websites to promote our collaborative inquiry:

https://sites.google.com/site/scdsbpublishing

http://forestoftechnology.wikispaces.com

http://forestoftechnology.blogspot.ca

Twitter Accounts:

https://twitter.com/SCDSBforest &

https://twitter.com/SCDSBbookclubs &

@forestoftech

@forestofreading that I am helping to manage for the OLA

In addition to: Facebook, Tagboard, Storify, and the list will continue to grow and evolve!

Feedback

Last but not never least, feedback is essential. The organizational structures need to have embedded feedback throughout. Feedback is the glue that links everything that you have been doing. It links essential skills, digital citizenship, learning skills, overall expectations. It validates student voice. It enhances student  voice. Further, we recognize that feedback can come from others – via online book clubs, online Forest of Reading, via students or teachers across Canada, via Authors, Illustrators, and Publishers.

Self-assessment, teacher assessment, can help students to understand what they are looking at, and go beyond the basic principles of learning and reinforcement.

Teachers can use technology in a myriad of ways to purposefully engage in all of the important components of literacy. I look forward to continuing on this journey, and adding depth and breadth to this inquiry in the years to come!

This inquiry is something that I will most certainly continue to build with @mswift! She is a fantastic partner @mswift with whom I will be continuing to work with throughout the upcoming school year.

Come learn more about this program at the BIT conference in Niagara Falls this November with a wonderful partner of mine and one who greatly helped out with this project: @mswift – We are very excited to be presenting this information!

I would love to hear your feedback, and would also hope that you will connect with us in the upcoming school year!

Deborah McCallum

It is not about the technology. It is about what we do with it.

Best-Books

This year I have been greatly inspired from a Teacher-Librarian at another school, who has been an expert at garnering support for reading amazing Canadian Literature!  More specifically – The Forest of Reading from the Ontario Library Association. 

What I love most about what she does, is that she has built a strong global sense of community around literacy and amazing Canadian literature ….. and for pleasure … not for standardized teaching and testing purposes.

This is the kind of situation that I have only dreamed about ..

a situation where every teacher and student in the school know all about the books, have heard and read at least some of the books, and can discuss the books anytime, anywhere, and with anyone.

She works directly with the classrooms as well, and as a result, individual conferencing is able to take place – which is proving to be much for valuable than studying levelled books and passages. The halls are adorned with chart paper and the names of the books of the Forest of Reading program in them – a place for students to write comments and questions about the books, and a goal setting bulletin board.

SAMR redefinition already happening, just without the technology.

This is community building at its finest, and it is all happening around the books from the Forest of Reading.

I am so inspired by what is going on. To me, this is what ‘it‘ is all about.

Now, I love using educational technology – but for realistic and beneficial purposes. I am very pragmatic, yet optimistic about edtech can, and cannot do – a firm believer that it is not about the technology, but what we do with it. It is paramount to me to promote community building surrounding the merging of traditional and digital literacies. I figure that if educators can build the metaphorical online structures, then the students will have that place to go.

There are not many ‘places’ on the internet for students to go that are purposefully created for them in this way.

I wanted to springboard on these amazing ideas already happening in this school, and provide a ‘technological framework’ to connect and grow a community of readers connecting online. I set up twitter account, blog, facebook, tagboard, and storify technologies. It has garnered a lot of interest, and I hope that the seeds have been planted to grow even more next year.

However, this was not without its barriers. This idea was met with various kinds of comments including .. ‘well other schools already have blogs up and running surrounding the Forest of Reading, you know‘ -or – ‘you know that other schools are doing really great and innovative things with technology‘…Look, I ‘get’ that it may not ‘seem’ innovative, nor all that technological at first glance. But the opportunities truly are endless.. from blogs, Book Trailers, QR codes, twitter and google hangouts — we take it beyond the technology itself – to meaningful longterm community learning and literacy.  There are amazing educators out there who are already redefining learning, and I just think that we can grow those learning communities when we use tech.  We are looking at digital literacy becoming a natural extension of traditional literacy – not an add-on, or a different entity all together. Just think of the possibilities if we are able to redefine ordinary classroom literacy lessons.

Currently, we have students connecting with authors, illustrators and publishers; we have students connecting in meaningful ways with teachers, and other students they have never met. We have students creating their own book trailers without even being asked! We have students reading and discussing the books over twitter – students who have never before read for pleasure. We have learners engaging meaningfully in literacy because the twitter format works so much better for them than anything else ever has. The bottom line is, because they love the ‘framework’ that has been built, and they love the sense of community and connection that can happen outside the four walls of the traditional classroom.

No, this is NOT about the technology, or technologies used. To me, this is about using technology to build the ‘frameworks’ that the students, teachers, community members can engage with. The structures to connect people across time and space to share knowledge and ideas about the books. To give students a framework that they can engage with outside of school hours if they want – a safe place to engage in a love of literature. Which, I believe is the essence of improving literacy scores – if that is what our ultimate goal is.

Far better than standardization in my humble opinion.

I do not have all the answers, just the passion and drive to use technology in ways that makes it about the love of learning, and community building. Next we will be having students using Google Hangouts with students in another school to teach them how to engage with book trailers and other cool edtech — all about their favourite Forest of Reading books – and just in time for the big vote!

I do hope that you will join us in our ‘LiteracyCommons’: sites.google.com/site/digitalpublishing ; twitter @SCDSBForest and @forestofreading and @SCDSBbookclubs (after the official Forest of Reading vote until next fall:)

I really hope you will join us in creating an online community of readers! We want to connect with you over the years to come:)

Deborah McCallum

© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Edtech, Pedagogy, Boundaries of Competence

Image from Wesley Fryer

Image from Wesley Fryer

When educators talk about all of the great ways to incorporate technology into the classroom, and when companies effectively advertise their products, it is easy to make education about the technology and not the pedagogy, curriculum, or student. However, it is not wise to merely start with the technology, but with the learning goals, and needs of the students.

We want to consider the following question: How can we use our knowledge and edtech tools to foster higher order thinking skills and understanding, & also enable students to become effective digial citizens?

Student Success as defined by Ministry’s of Education is about meeting the interests, needs, and strengths of all students and engaging them in learning. However, I believe that this definition needs to be further tweaked to encompass the concept of students having attained equity and justice, such as with our FNMIstudents. We can promote our students interests, needs, strengths, and promote equity and justice for Aboriginal students with the effective use of technological tools.

However, as Educators, it is important to not fall into the trap of being ‘taken in’ by the latest and greatest fads, without knowledge and understanding of how to appropriately use with students. We simply have to engage in ongoing professional development surrounding the effective use of technology in the classroom.

Technology use is not about the newest apps, or newest tools. Nor do we need technology to be amazing educators. It is about how we can use technology to connect with others, and make meaningful connections to enhance learning and understanding. It is about helping our students become digital citizens and digitally literate.

Edtech makes many implicit promises to us, and continually send messages that they WILL help us to be successful in the classroom. However, the fact is that technology has the ability to distract us from our purposes as educators, and distract our students. Simply put, it is prudent to start with learning goals, and then decide and plan the tools to meet those goals. Learning goals stem from curriculum expectations and our own inquiries based on students and learning needs. Then we need to engage in the learning and connecting with others to gain our own knowledges into how we can effectively integrate technology into pedagogy and content knowledge bases.

One example of a broad inquiry includes how to use technology to infuse Indigenous cultural knowledge into the classroom; how can I best support FNMI population at large, in addition to including FNMI and non-FNMI students into classroom learning surrounding FNMI culture, history and heritage.

It is easy for us to get caught up in the ‘mechanics’ of the tools we use to promote learning. There are a lot of ‘should’s’ and ‘musts’ when it comes to incorporating the newest technological fads and ‘flavours’ of the month. However, we as educators are the most ethical and effective when we work within our own Boundaries of Competence.

Deborah McCallum

Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Information-Processing in the Digital Age: Beginning with Content Curation

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The process of finding information and creating new knowledge involves key skills that are important for all learners. In the 21st century, the amount of information that our students must process has grown exponentially, and will continue to grow. This is one area where we need to build capacity with our educators.

In the 21st century there are still many educators, and and schools overall, that are in need of information-processing tech skills. This does not mean that they have lesser pedagogies or practices. However, There are real consequences when teachers who are not comfortable with tech, simply abandon good pedagogy and good tried and true practices, to integrate technology. Further, there are educators who do not appreciate the way that PD is mandated, and the strategies with which they have traditionally been presented.

But. We have a growing issue here. At the forefront of our imaginations, we need to figure out how we are going to effectively teach students to navigate information in new ways, and create new knowledges in a hyperlinked world.

It’s not just about teaching the curriculum all by itself anymore, because that curriculum can now be linked out both locally, and globally.

Curriculum expectations do not exist within specific subject areas, yet are hyperlinked with information all over the world, and throughout all subject areas. More important than anything, I believe, is the ability for all learners to navigate information critically in our hyperlinked world.

I propose that schools need to come up with clear plans to help with this reality of the 21st century. A plan that includes input from all stakeholders, and a plan that reinforces the use of our Librarians, that promote the school-wide goals of teaching students all steps of the research process.

One way to begin, for schools who have traditionally avoided technology integration, could include the school wide goal of curating information for a particular subject or topic in every grade.

Beginning solely with content curation strategies, educators new to information processing with technology, can begin the journey by having learners curating valuable information for their own purposes with platforms such as a classroom Pinterest boards, or Scoop.it. There are many other platforms as well.

The opportunities that can evolve and branch out from this process can include:
new research assignments,
reflection and critical thinking opportunities,
sharing and collaboration with others,
a sense of pride for educators, and learners, and of course,
opening up opportunities to use new technologies.

It is important to try new strategies to involve everyone in meaningful ways.

What strategies have worked for you?

D.McCallum

Copyright
© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Top 10 Criteria for Choosing Edtech

 

Jo Fothergill

Jo Fothergill

There are important considerations that need to be at the forefront of our decision making when it comes to choosing edtech. When we metaphorically ‘grab’ onto the technology and use it without thought as to how it affects our pedagogy, we may be putting our learners at a a disadvantage. Therefore, there are several things we need to consider including creating a balance of using technologies against ‘tried and true’ evidence based, research-based, community-based, and culturally appropriate strategies for learning. Ed-tech in and of itself does not provide easy answers.

The following is a list of my top 10 criteria for integrating edtech:

1.Classroom Ecology: Critically think about your classroom community, the needs, the best ways to promote student voice. Don’t just strive to foster the ecology, also have flexibility and openness to understanding the natural ecology and how you can harness that for success. Educators must also take a step back and think about how much time the edtech will take up in class. Overtime, will this result in the vast majority of students losing out on key instructional time? 

2. Participation vs Consumption. Consider how the students and learners are going to participate with the digital tool and the technology within each unique learning environment. Are we promoting Participation with the tool…or merely consumption? What is the difference, and what are the implications? Educators must also take a step back and think about how much time the edtech will take up in class. Overtime, will this result in the vast majority of students losing out on key instructional time? 

3. Pedagogy. What are your goals? Will you suffer if you ‘step away’ from your pedagogy to ‘try out’ new edtech? If so, it is time to consider what PD you might be interested in. How can teachers be supported in ways that promote learning about the ‘art and science’ of integrating the digital tools into professional pack practice. This is <a href=”http://bigideasinedu.edublogs.org/2013/08/22/technology-should-not-offset-good-pedagogy/”>pedagogy</a&gt;. Educators must also take a step back and think about how much time the edtech will take up in class. Overtime, will this result in the vast majority of students losing out on key instructional time?

4. Leadership. Make messages crystal-clear with regards to the ‘what’, ‘why’, ‘how’, and ‘when’ of implementing new platforms. It is important to avoid sending mixed messages to all stakeholders involved in education. Educators must also take a step back and think about how much time the edtech will take up in class. Overtime, will this result in the vast majority of students losing out on key instructional time? 

5. Balancing enthusiasm with research and knowledge. Having a real understanding about what text tools can actually do and what they cannot actually do is important. Avoid holding any delusions were glorified ideas about how they’re helping our students. Educators must also take a step back and think about how much time the edtech will take up in class. Overtime, will this result in the vast majority of students losing out on key instructional time? 

6. Minimize distraction. One that cannot be ignored is that many technology tools are linked with other tools social media tools another digital learning tools. How can we minimize distraction for students, when we cannot monitor them all the time, to help them get the most of their learning experiences? Educators must also take a step back and think about how much time the edtech will take up in class. Overtime, will this result in the vast majority of students losing out on key instructional time? 

7. Adaptive Technology.. Adapting technology tools to warrant appropriate learning needs and appropriate learning goals. Educators must also take a step back and think about how much time the edtech will take up in class. Overtime, will this result in the vast majority of students losing out on key instructional time? 

8. Promoting Collaboration. In what ways can we use the technology to learn together, to collaborate, to share, and to build new knowledges. How can we tailor each situation to our own specific needs? Educators must also take a step back and think about how much time the edtech will take up in class. Overtime, will this result in the vast majority of students losing out on key instructional time? 

9. Ethics. How do we carefully consider the ethics involved? Part of being ethical, is working within our boundaries of competence to be able to provide the best learning outcomes for our students. Further, It is important to Carefully outline the needs of all stakeholders, the ethical considerations that need to be understood. Psychologists have to take graduate-level courses in ethics and decision-making, how are educators trained to make important ethical decisions in education, let alone decisions that involve the ever evolving dimensions of Ed-tech? Further, What are educators responsibilities to learners? Should we be developing content and software and hardware unique to our local school boards and businesses? For instance based on present and future privacy and data mining concerns etc., should we consider local platforms or local clouds that will promise to always keep student information safe? Educators must also take a step back and think about how much time the edtech will take up in class. Overtime, will this result in the vast majority of students losing out on key instructional time? 

10. Equity and Accessibility. How are we ensuring that technology is being used to promote equity and accessibility to information and knowledge? Equity is also about ensuring that our most disenfranchised students are not missing out on key opportunities to learn basic methods from tried and true pedagogies, in exchange for more time spent navigating edtech. Educators must also take a step back and think about how much time the edtech will take up in class. Overtime, will this result in the vast majority of students losing out on key instructional time? 

Ed-tech provides many wonderful opportunities for educators and learners. But we do need to be mindful of these important considerations for the greater good of all students. I really think that educators must also take a step back and think about how much time the edtech will take up in class. Overtime, will this result in the vast majority of students losing out on key instructional time? What will this look like for an entire school? Community? City? Province? Country? Will too much enthusiasm spent with edtech result in more students not having the basic skills that we already know are important? At what cost are we promoting edtech? Let’s face it, the research is thin. I certainly promote edtech and use it, but I also believe in not losing what we have already gained!

What criteria do you use to find your edtech tools?

D.McCallum

© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

It is not about Technology. It is about Pedagogy.

 

In this era of rapid evolution of informational technology, new pedagogies are necessary to meet the demands of our connected world. This includes providing equal access and opportunity for students to partake, share and build knowledge in virtual spaces.

Educators are creatorsfacilitators, curators and collaborators of knowledge in the 21st century, and technology plays a big role in these functions. However, education is not about the technology, it is about the pedagogy. Unless we re-imagine our current school and education structures, technology-infusion will not be meaningful for our learners. If we want tech integration, we must change the way we do things. Tech does not integrate well into our factory model of schools.

21st century pedagogy should evolve as we re-imagine our schemata of how schooling should be structured. This includes how we participate in sharing, exploring, and collaborating of new knowledge networks, and of course, to meet new trends in globalization fuelled by technology.

The integration new technology into pedagogy is a skill that requires knowledge, and understanding. There is a lack  of readily available research and discussion throughout our ‘Professional Learning Networks’ that touches on technology integration and the implications on Pedagogy.

This is also not an area where we can berate other educators about. Not all educators are tech-savvy. However, as educational leaders, our educators need support and facilitation to explore how technology can be incorporated into pedagogy.

Technology integration alone does not equal higher test scores and more effective learners. In fact, there are large percentages of students who are easily distracted by technology, and simply do not have the working memory to be able to process the multiple tasks co-existing at once, ie., pictures and text at the same time. This point presents very real implications to our students when we integrate the newest technologies. As educators, we do need research, training, and better practices to best educate our learners.

It is our pedagogy that needs to evolve to support technology and new ways of globally sharing, knowing and building knowledge. 

In fact, technology in itself is not new. Technology has always existed. Modern technology has been around as long as people have existed, and doesn’t just refer to the 21st century.

Also, absolutely no one can deny that the newest inventions tend to engender or require the development of certain skills or attitudes. But is there anything really new? What is new is our ability to access knowledge, collaborate, and share on a global scale. We no longer need the ‘teacher’ as the ‘sage on the stage’. We have opportunities to break out of the previously built structures that bind us to when, why, what, and how we should all learn. We have opportunities to re-imagine what learning can look like, feel like, and how it can impact ourselves and others.

What opportunities lie ahead if we can embrace this kind of change! 

But it is not about the ‘technology’. It will always take good educators to help learners find their own paths to learning that is important to them:

Good teachers know that abandoning good teaching practice, & allowing yourself to be distracted by technology results in poor teaching.

Good teachers also know that they do not have all the answers, and that we can use new technologies to ignite passion for learning that is personally meaningful.

It has been suggested by educators with PhD’s discussing the notions that some of our lower levels of literacy across the Western world come from educators having abandoned certain practices that promote deep learning, to experiment with new technologies. Let’s not forget that tech-integration takes a lot of time, resources, and practice.

Still, others have argued that the spell check and word processors of our modern day technology has resulted in generations of students with increased difficulties in spelling, reading, and writing, and critical thinking. If there is actually truth to any of these arguments, we as educators have much to contemplate when it comes to integrating technology.

So how do we maintain high standards of excellence, while shifting pedagogy to incorporate technology meaningfully?

Perhaps before we jump into integrating the newest technologies, and the newest ‘flavour of the month’ perhaps, we also remind ourselves of the ‘truths’ that make us good educators, and the research based art and science behind our teaching practice, and make sure that whatever tools we use in the classrooms, we do NOT abandon good pedagogy to simply use a new technology in our classrooms.

This takes training, facilitation, and new professional development strategies for teachers to be able to shift previous schemas of how learning should unravel.

Further, human challenges will always remain human challenges, will always remain human challenges.  Regardless of the date and time in history humans will always have the same basic needs including needs for love, acceptance and to learn new information. New technologies do not automatically offset universals in the areas of human behaviour. We do need research and training to understand the implications of  technology usage in the classroom on the nature of human beings and learning.

New technologies should not offset good pedagogy. Rather, pedagogy should evolve to incorporate meaningful ways of learning, collaborating and sharing in the 21st century.

 

Deborah McCalllum

© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

Technology in Education : BYOD & Equitable Access

 

child-and-phoneBYOD is an initiative that more and more individual schools and boards are considering to run within schools. While it promises many benefits for students, teachers and school boards, it is an initiative that is not without issues and ethical considerations that should be thoughtfully considered by teachers and boards alike. Equity and access to personal mobile devices are among the top issues that educators, administrators, parents, and boards are all attempting to parse out. Many of us are learning as we go.

I remember a new lesson I was teaching that I started with by using a simple diagnostic assessment tool on my laptop, displayed to the SmartBoard. Motivated by the technology itself, some students were motivated to go home and apply their learning to the technology in the same formats we used in class.  Some students felt very motivated to come to school with their own devices with the hopes that they could use them in class.

Then came the evidence of a digital divide. With only one set of laptops for the school, I frequently did not have devices on hand for my students. Some students had devices that not have Wifi, and many still did not have their own device. It became apparent that only students who had their own devices had regular opportunities to integrate Technology into their learning processes. We eventually came to an impasse. To ensure equity of access within the classroom, I felt I had to start saying no to students about using their own technologies. This caused me to stop and reflect upon the future implications and consequences of this inequity. What would the future look like for students who would spend their entire school year, or career, without their own device, versus those who could use them each and every day?

This prompted me to conduct my own research of sorts. For Parents in my School Community, I created a Survey through Google Docs and spoke with other parents one-on-one to learn about what their thoughts were surrounding BYOD. One of the key concerns appeared to be the issue of Equity. Parents voiced concerns including keeping kids safe when using Social Media, and respecting the privacy of students while using technology at school, and the issue of Equity.

As I continued my research, the Ontario Ministry of Education is without an official BYOD policy within its Public Education Framework. However, the Shifting Landscape Final Report (2012) conducted by the Ministry of Education found that there is increasing interest in classroom focussed, cloud-based, digital citizenship and literacy, using personal devices, and equitable access versus scheduled access of devices within schools.

The Peel District School Board is currently striving to incorporate technology into teaching and learning environments with Board-wide policies and procedures to promote BYOD in each school. To address issues of equity, they have created an opportunity to offer an affordable option for more families that include tablets that can be purchased for $55.00.

In my readings I also found that in Finland all students receive a free education with free school meals, resources, materials, transportation and support services. I could not find evidence of BYOD programs in Finland, however.

BYOD initiatives promise cost-effectiveness and opportunities to integrate technology with the curriculum. However, we still need to think critically about the initiative and strive to embed it within a context that supports equity and accessibility for students.  Otherwise, we risk promoting and normalizing privilege in schools.

It may seem insignificant that more than half of the students in that Grade 3 Science class did not have their own devices. It may have been fine for 1 class, a whole unit, or even a whole term. However, if the same students without devices continue to learn in school without equitable access to technology, this has the potential to lead to a vast digital divide between the haves and have-nots.

BYOD promotes educational leverage for students to be able to navigate an ever increasing wireless world. Students also have access to personalized learning opportunities in the areas of digital citizenship and digital literacy. However, as Educators in a Public School system, it is necessary to ensure we are levelling the playing field with equity and access when it comes to the diverse learning needs of students. The financial ethics involved within Public Education are complex and asking the question of whether each student should have access to the same learning apps and materials prompts the question as to what the goals are for Public Education.

Despite the benefits of BYOD programs, it still promotes Academic disparity and inequality between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’. Unfair advantages will lead to an increase in the digital divide and to uneven competencies in digital citizenship and literacy. This will undoubtedly affect society in the future. Disparity and the Widening Digital Divide Among the Haves and Have-Nots.

As technology continues to evolve and permeate nearly every aspect of life, schools are looking to cost efficient ways to meet the increasing technology demands of the digital world. Educators are also increasingly aware of the importance of helping students learn about Digital literacies. BYOD is certainly a cost-effective way to increase technology and technology usage within schools.

In the digital world of today, technology has never been so widespread and accessible. It is easy to get on board with the promises that a BYOD initiative will automatically be a win-win situation for all stakeholders. It is an initiative that promises Money saving initiatives for school boards, and opportunities for families that already have the money. These factors inadvertently place pressure on those families who do not have the funds for devices, apps, upgrades, repairs, Wifi, and  and possible replacements.

Research that point toward results that students living in poverty achieve lower scores on standardized tests, increased drop-out rates, etc.  Often an ‘invisible’ problem wrought with stereotypes of what poverty looks like. Run the risk of not realising that many middle class families are also at risk of economic insecurity. This certainly translates into the classrooms and learning environments.

Schools play large roles in coping effectively with poverty. Education can play an important role in improving conditions for students in poverty. Also, programs including implementing programs such as breakfast programs, food baskets are initiatives that schools run to help make sure students have enough to eat. There are many stereotypes that surround what Poverty should look like. Yet many families experience economic disadvantage and thus experience great stress and pressure with the rising costs of schooling and Education. BYOD initiatives place pressure on Parents to foot the bill for technological devices.

BYOD affects families, placing stress on tight incomes, often to provide each sibling with devices that have wireless internet capabilities and apps. Further, what if the apps, browsers and platforms used at home are not the ones supported in schools? Further costs can include repairs, regular updates, virus protection, crashing systems, and outdated technologies, and theft.

BYOD is not merely students bringing their devices to school. BYOD is a game-changer in education that requires us to re-think what schools need to look like to accommodate Educational technology and learning opportunities in the 21st Century. BYOD warrants changes in the ecology and context of the classroom to avoid an increasing digital divide between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’.

Critical evaluation of BYOD initiatives can help us to understand how the practice can be exclusionary based on an uneven distribution of devices. Distribution of technology across the province is uneven, with technologies often differing across classrooms, schools, grades, boards, makes, models, operating systems, and usage rates. Further economic and academic disparity exists between different ethnicities, socio-economic status groupings, and gender.

 

Deborah McCallum

© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Mobile Technologies and The Changing Ecology of our Schools

iPad  Advancing mobile technologies and information access in the 21st century require ecological changes of classroom structure.  Increasing numbers of schools are experimenting with various versions of BYOD programs, and purchasing mobile devices for students to use. It is necessary to acknowledge how these developments will ultimately change the ecology of the classroom, how teachers teach, and ultimately, how students learn.

 

The increase of mobile technologies will invariably change the organization and set up of our classrooms.  Steve jobs said that the iPad is a ‘lean-back’ technology..meant to be used in an easy chair… yet with a growing popularity of the iPad within our schools, we need to acknowledge the structure of traditional school systems, furniture design and placement, and consider the implications of new and flexible developments such as BYOD, on our inflexible classrooms and schedules.

 

It is also necessary to understand the difference between regular classrooms with SmartPhones, and classrooms that have gone to BYOD and fully mobile. This is also different from regular classrooms that merely include students having SmartPhones. It is also important to note that mobile technologies in and of themselves will not make students any smarter. Teachers still need to take a critical analysis of their own Pedagogy, and how technology enhances it.

 

Mobile classrooms of the future will also necessitate changes in Pedagogy and the role of the Teacher. Many Teachers are already acknowledging the limits of traditional Pedagogies in the 21st Century and discussing how to make changes to enhance  with technology. However, I believe that once our classrooms and schools have gone completely mobile, we the role of the traditional Teacher will need to change. This brings to mind several questions surrounding changing technologies and initiatives such as BYOD including:

 

  • Will iPads and mobile technologies ultimately make work more difficult when used too much at desks?
  • Will standard assignments become obsolete?
  • What will ‘Equity’ and ‘Access’ look like?
  • When will we become comfortable with a philosophy that what educationally works for one student, will not work for another, depending upon what mobile technology is accessible.
  • Are we physically and mentally able to acknowledge that our traditional role of teaching will also change?
  • What will our classrooms look like, and should we still have them in the way that we are currently organized?

 

Current classroom and school system structures are still set up and organized in traditional ways. This provides many teachers with a seemingly plausible rationale as to why Pedagogy need not change yet. But our educational systems are in a state of flux when it comes to technology, with many polarized views about technology and how it fits in with traditional school models. Further, technology usage varies widely among and between teachers, classrooms, and schools.

 

However, we cannot ignore that we are looking at looming changes in the ecology of our classrooms. If we want our teachers and students to embrace mobile technologies, we have to support this by changing the rigid systems upon which our schools have been built upon for over a hundred years now.

 

One thing is for sure, classrooms that fully incorporate mobile technologies and BYOD initiatives will no longer be considered ‘traditional’, yet they will be completely new learning environments.  Mobile technologies will change the ecology of the classroom.

 

Deborah McCallum

© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.