If you look up at the tagline of this blog, there is a fourth T that has gone largely unused since I started this thing. Right now I’m obviously focusing on the Theatre and Travel side of my life, with occasional mentions of the Teaching thing. But Tech hasn’t been mentioned much. If you had me as a teacher over the past few years, you’ll know that it’s a topic that I’m quite passionate about. If this site continues after I return home from my travels and my studies, then I imagine I’ll focus much more on tech-in-education.
One of my major areas of focus this past school year was on BYOT, or Bring Your Own Tech. It all started shortly after Christmas, when a lot of my students came back after the break eager to use their new Kindles, Nooks, iPads, etc. We enjoyed a brief period where the kids were allowed to bring their own devices to school, but the official word from administration was NO. Leave them at home. Too much liability, too many questions about bandwidth usage, too much to discuss and decide before just opening the floodgates and allowing kids to bring in their own stuff.
We spent most of the second semester campaigning to administrators and school board members about the viability of allowing kids to bring in their own tech, but the school year ended with no clear victory for our cause. It was a bit heartbreaking for me, because I was continually blown away by the articulate and effective arguments my students put forth. They made their case, and they made it well, but we had too many nervous administrators who weren’t sure how to solve the potential hazards of the issue.
Since I’m on leave for this school year, I haven’t heard anything about my district making final decisions about the issue, but I was very excited to hear that our neighboring district is starting to allow their students to bring in their own devices. (You can read the article here.) Now THIS is a step in the right direction, and it is my sincere hope that my own district is in the process of starting this practice as well.
Because for me, it’s a no-brainer. Let ’em bring their own stuff to school. Yes, not everyone has their own digital reader, or smartphone, or tablet. We can’t create a digital divide in our classrooms. I get it. But instead of a blanket NO response to this question, we should instead be focused on how to solve the potential problems, and how to make these devices a central part of student learning. If we don’t, we run the risk of creating a larger divide between those that “get it” and those that don’t.
The kids “get it.” This is second nature to them, and if educators and administrators just say no because they can’t figure out how to incorporate a smartphone or a tablet into daily learning, then we don’t deserve to be called educators. We’re just dinosaurs, and it’s just going to add to the gulf between older educators and younger students.