How BYOD Fits Into An Ideal Learning Environment

This week I am continuing to work on my Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) action plan as part of my Digital Learning Environments course at Seattle Pacific University. I am working to get to the heart of why utilizing personal devices in the classroom is part of an ideal digital learning environment. If I remove the word digital, I see that my ideal learning environment encourages students whose learning is a result of their personal curiosity. It challenges students to persist in their learning despite ongoing challenges. And, it develops a student that is able to adapt to shifting situations.

What does a learning space that supports the development of a curious, persistent and adaptable student look like? It is clear that challenging assignments and remediation do not make a student persistent in their achievement. Similarly, asking higher level thinking questions does not make a student curious. And, assigning students to different projects or partners does not make a student adaptable. These skills are learned through the fine craft of a teacher who focuses on each student as part of a larger puzzle. Students have individual needs: they learn at different paces, have different interests, and need support in different areas. Our classroom environment has to be one that challenges students when they are ready for it, encourages students when they need it and teaches lessons that require thinking alongside all types of people. It pushes students to ask questions stemming from their own inquiries and personal interests. It also creates a student who can reflect not only on what they have been learned, but how they have learned.

"High Ropes Course Climbing Forest" CSU under CC BY 2.0 Retrieved from https://pixabay.com/en/high-ropes-course-climbing-forest-246113/

“High Ropes Course Climbing Forest” CSU under CC BY 2.0 Retrieved from https://pixabay.com/en/high-ropes-course-climbing-forest-246113/

Engaging students in this type of environment requires an awareness of current cultural norms with emerging technology. Awareness of how today’s youth are using technology on their own time provides a window into possible approaches (Morris and Stommel , 2013). A lack of awareness can potentially short change our students and push them away from genuine learning experiences that they already understand, enjoy and want to expand upon (Morris & Stommel, 2013). Recently, my district conducted a survey of 8th graders, which included questions about technology. The survey results showed that 91% of 8th grade students had their own cell phone last year. Bringing personal devices means that students are arriving to school with some of the most modern applications available, and my ideal learning environment does not prevent students from accessing the most current tools used by society on a daily basis.

The use of personal devices in the classroom creates opportunities for students to not only access digital tools, but to own their learning literally and figuratively. They have a comfort level with their personal device. They care about their personal devices. Part of being curious and adaptable is being able to resolve individual challenges in real time. The challenges that come with BYOD are also some of the learning benefits. Troubleshooting setbacks on devices, as well communicating with peers to do so is not only real world, but builds a persistent and adaptable person. Personal devices in the hands of every student can also actively engage everyone in the room, motivating students to make choices about how to independently implement technology to meet the demands of a task. The technologies on personal devices are moving targets, putting students in charge, as they need to adapt and learn to dodge obstacles. An ideal learning environment involves students in this process. It includes teachers who are willing to work alongside students to navigate the confusions and shifts of emerging technology to support the development of these skills. This may create anxiety in education, but many effective shifts in educational practice have done just this (Morris & Stommel, 2013).

Morris, S. & Stommel, J. (2013) Why online programs fail, and 5 things we can do about it. [Web Post]. Retrieved from http://www.hybridpedagogy.com/journal/why-online-programs-fail-and-5-things-we-can-do-about-it/

 

3 thoughts on “How BYOD Fits Into An Ideal Learning Environment

  1. Maybe this is our fear of BYOD, “The technologies on personal devices are moving targets, putting students in charge, as they need to adapt and learn to dodge obstacles.” Why would we want to put students in charge? We lose control, we can’t always get their attention, and who knows what they are even doing on this shiny finagled machines. How dare you! YET! this is what we should be doing…giving up control in save place so they can practice and learn much needed skills–as you say they learn how to adapt. When students have jobs and control on certain aspects we might be wonderfully surprised by what they are capable of! I look forward to hearing more about this, Annie. Wonderful job!

  2. Annie,
    I love this part in your first paragraph: my ideal learning environment encourages students whose learning is a result of their personal curiosity. It challenges students to persist in their learning despite ongoing challenges. And, it develops a student that is able to adapt to shifting situations.
    As Ryan said, many people fear empowering students, but the clear description your ideal learning environment and the student outcomes and actions you’d see within it makes it hard to argue with that vision. I am really looking forward to hearing more about your plan and how you’ll expand and revise what you implemented last year.

  3. “It is clear that challenging assignments and remediation do not make a student persistent in their achievement. Similarly, asking higher level thinking questions does not make a student curious. And, assigning students to different projects or partners does not make a student adaptable. These skills are learned through the fine craft of a teacher who focuses on each student as part of a larger puzzle.” When I was reading the beginning part of this statement, I thought, “Wait, isn’t the goal to incorporate higher-level thinking and differentiation in final products?” I then read the passage in full and realized you are exactly right. Those aspects of education don’t make for a meaningful experience, it’s the teacher that does that. How they embed those elements into a classroom and learning experience. There is no bandaid in education, no magical tools that make a lesson a lifelong memory of learning. It’s us, the teachers. And you’re doing an incredible job of partnering rich, thoughtful learning with personalized attention to each student. Great job, Annie.

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