Sunday, May 27, 2012

BYOT for Teachers


Made with Skitch for iPad
As part of a generation who remembers dial up but already had high speed internet access before I left high school, technology is firmly part of my every day life. As a result, I didn't even think twice about  the integration of BYOT (bring your own technology). BYOT seemed a natural progression. Of course, I realised the challenges. You can see the draft department analysis I did here.

The use of BYOT in schools have been discussed at length - see herehere and here or here. Or talk to the teachers on twitter at #BYOTchat about it. In light of all the recommendations and advice for BYOT and despite the advice against it, our school has officially supported a bring your own technology policy for five weeks now.  Students are encouraged to bring their smart devices, big and small, to school. The teachers are encouraged to provide opportunities for students to use the devices in class.

I firmly believe in leading by example. As a result, before BYOT, I would never ever have brought my phone to class. With BYOT, I feel that I need to be a role model, showing students how to use their equipment to gain maximum use out of them. I also strongly feel that I need to model the social etiquette that is required when you are constantly able to transport yourself to a different world at the touch of a button. Half a term since the formal inclusion and my favourite part of BYOT is not what I expected at all.

I started using Edmodo with my students a few months ago. I can set an Edmodo quiz or assignment for homework. When I see them next I can log on to the free Edmodo application whilst in class to see who has done their homework and how well did the students do. I can immediately give help to the students who I know is struggling without having to mark their homework first. The feedback is instant.

I also love Splice. This free video editor allows me to splice together videos that we make in class, edit them quickly, and upload them to YouTube. Not even once going near a computer. This is all done on my phone within minutes.

Each of my classes also have their own class blog. This is where we post notes, photos, diagrams, practice questions, homework or anything else relevant. I use blogger for this. When we have drawn particularly good diagrams on the board or we have done an exciting experiment, I can take a photo and upload it straight to each class' blog in a matter of minutes.

The standard iPhone voice recorder lets me record conversations with students during individual feedback on their tests. The voice recorder also lets me record the class discussions so that we can keep them, play them back to analyse our learning or even post it on the class blog for the students to listen to when they are trying to study.

Since New Zealand teachers are now required to have a portfolio of evidence that demonstrates their teaching practice, I am able to record video, audio and photographs with my phone, I can save these to Evernote  which is also free - using my phone! This means that my evidence is safe and sound in the Evernote cloud, searchable by tag, title or notebook until I am ready to file it into My Portfolio as required by our school. I know I am not the only one who records my activities at school since recently whilst on duty I watched as the principal and another staff member stood around a lunch time school concert, recording the student response through photos and videos on their phones. They blended right in between all the teenagers who already had their phones out, recording the experience for personal use or Facebook.

There is also Skitch for iPad which lets me make drawings, export them or email them straight to students when they want an explanation of something. It means I can annotate photos of science experiments or show maths problems based on photos. It means I can make notes with one student and then email/share them with the whole class or save them to Evernote.

Being completely hooked on my iPhone, an upgrade was due. My two week old iPad has already proved its worth with Numbers allowing me direct data entry onto an electronic grade book. This means that when it is time for reports, I am able to generate averages for my students - who did their homework (Edmodo exports to Excel files), who completed their starter activities without being asked, who had their equipment, who had a good attitude or any other notes, all documented in one place. This of course can also be linked straight into my electronic portfolio.

Half a term into the formal incorporation of BYOT with more and more schools going down a similar path. Can you imagine what the future could hold for teachers? I expected great things for students with BYOT. Instead I found great things for teachers.

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