Have you stopped, taken a breath, and thought about what BYOT means for YOU and your teachers, students, and parents? That’s a question that is screaming its way into the rarified atmosphere of public schools, like a cataclysmic meteor smashing tidy learning and technology plans. Still, many schools are now coming to terms, one way or another, with bring your own technology (BYOT). Bring your own technology intrigues many and frightens others. As a result of that fear and concern, campus leadership teams are compelled to craft a strategy to implement BYOT successfully.

Planning Ahead

This two-part article offers two approaches you can use as part of a strategy session for campus leaders:

      1. BYOT Scenario: In this problem-based learning scenario, explore BYOT issues from your particular role. You will develop a solution in a face-to-face session.
      2. Seven Question Checklist: You will use this checklist to self reflect as a group as to whether you have addressed some key ideas. Links are provided to help you access appropriate resources.

Before exploring these two approaches, consider the inevitability of BYOT in schools.

The Inevitability of BYOT

“BYOT- it happens no matter what; it’s only called BYOT,” shares ed tech specialist Josh Davis, “when your curriculum takes advantage of it.”

Some statistics to keep in mind:

  1. Young adults tend to have higher-than-average levels of smartphone ownership regardless of income or educational attainment. (Source)
  2. More Hispanic (49 percent) and African-American (42 percent) middle school students are using their smartphones for homework than Caucasian students (36 percent). (Source)
  3. Smartphone use for homework also crosses income levels, with 29 percent of the students from the lowest-income households reporting smartphone usage to do their homework assignments.(Source)
  4. More than one in three middle school students are using mobile devices to complete homework, and more of those who use these devices for learning in the classroom express a strong interest in science, technology, and math than those who do not, according to a new national survey.  (Source)
  5. Nationwide,  55 percent of middle and high school students, as well as 25 percent of elementary students, own a mobile device (e.g. cell phone).
  6. Teens in the lowest income category are most likely to use their phones, instead of computers, to go online.

Approach #1 – BYOT Scenario

“Effective leadership without consistent, clear communication does not exist,” shares one district technology director. The scenario below is intended to tease out differing perspectives on BYOT. It will help you reflect on the issues that arise when implementing BYOT:

In a few weeks, students like John and Maria at a 5A high school will be bringing their own technology to school. While some teachers like Jennifer are excited about the possibilities—mainly, those that have taken the time to learn how to use the Read/Write Web to collaborate, create, and connect in alignment with academic goals—others like Rick are afraid things will not work as well. Rick is comfortable with students working with pencils and paper, not using their own devices. He is concerned about what they might do on them when he isn’t looking. James, the campus principal, recognizes the need for a campus strategy towards BYOT. He’s worried that teachers will fail to take advantage of BYOT in their lessons and its use will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. “Failure,” he points out with a smile, “isn’t an option in our small community.”  This is a fact the district technology department and district leadership are well aware of as well. The Classroom Learning Activity Rubric is one instrument that’s been offered to help teachers employ strategies that take advantage of technology in the classroom. Parents like Ms. Jones (involved in the PTA) are wondering, “How will the school communicate with me about this and will there be a consistent message from campus leaders? Will that message match what teachers are saying and doing in the classroom when students misbehave?” So much is at stake, jobs are on the line, high stakes accountability is in play. At a time when technology is everywhere, teaching, learning, and leading with technology has real consequences.

As you reflect on this scenario, ask yourself some questions, such as the ones below:

  • What hunches (intuitive guesses) do you have about this scenario?
  • What do we know for certain about the problem?
  • What questions can we ask that will get us the information we need to help the protagonist solve the problem?
  • Who are the stakeholders in this scenario and what solutions do we need to develop for their particular situation?

Pick a stakeholder role–teacher, campus leader, technology department, student, parent—that you have some affinity with and then try to develop a solution. Consider using a KWHL chart like the one below to get you started. While the example is a great beginning point, it’s not intended to be all-inclusive of the conversations embedded in the role of campus leader.

Stakeholder Role: Campus Leader

What Do I Know? What Do I Want to Know? How Will I Find Information? What Have I Learned?
    1. BYOT is a certainty
    2. Not all teachers have the training to take advantage of BYOT
    3. Parents expect consistent messages about this initiative from all staff
    4. I’m not sure why we’re doing this myself.
    5. This is a high-profile project that can’t fail. Digital citizenship is key to successful behavior for students.
What is expected of me as a campus leader? How can I better support classroom teachers and encourage them to use BYOT? How can BYOT enhance instruction rather than become a self-fulfilling prophecy? How do I hold teachers accountable for what they are doing or not doing? The District should have a BYOT Support site with online resources focusing on facilitating online learning. The site should also include a webinar schedule, along with micro-credentialing or badges teachers can earn.

End of Part 1

In Part 2, we’ll explore some specific tips. Be sure to check back tomorrow!  

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