Exploring BYOD Success - Threshold of Your Mind

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A colleague recently shared these two questions (in bold) with me...I invite you to leave YOUR responses in the comments or on your own blog, then provide a link in the comments.

What will it entail for a BYOD program to become successful in teaching and learning?

This is a difficult question, and one I've spent some time reflecting on, as I'm in the midst of facilitating a BYOD program. While you can see the efforts undertaken online, I'd like to point out 3 key elements I see as incredibly important:

  1. Enthusiasm. As the old saying by Ralph Waldo Emerson goes, "Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm." I hope it's not trite to cite that quote, but the truth is, educators are generally challenged to roll out new programs and initiatives periodically. What will distinguish one from the other? Enthusiasm (for leaders and teachers) and fidelity to the program. Of the two, I'll take enthusiasm any day. Having been a young teacher facilitating writing/reading workshop with 5th graders--and using technology--I found that while the veteran teacher may know exactly when/how/what to teach at the right moment, there was a lot to be said for the young fool that plunged right in and invited his students to join him. I'm grateful for having had that opportunity, and as I get older, enthusiasm burns as brightly as a shooting star. Better someone on fire than frozen into immobility by the craft.
  2. PLN. After 20+ years of working with teachers, administrators and anyone who'd bother to listen, I've decided I can't reach everyone. For one, this blog isn't as widely read as I'd hoped for, I can't crank out as many articles, and I get bored easily. However, there is a world of educators who are sharing ideas, one at a time and who are passionate, engaged about something. What that something is doesn't matter to me all the time, but it will matter to someone else on a campus or in a district who needs to see that engagement and passion. We seriously need to dump our current approach to professional learning and focus on PLNs and let people learn and connect with others, then bring it back to the table. PLNs accelerate teacher learning and change perspectives faster than traditional professional development (no, I don't have a study to cite).
  3. Virtual classroom tools and approaches. One of the wisest points a colleague made in regards to BYOD and 1 to 1, etc. was that they empowered teachers to build virtual spaces and explore online creativity/collaboration tools as much as two years in advance of allowing students to jump into BYOD. So that when students started bringing their own devices, the teachers already knew how they would tap into those devices...tools like Edmodo, Moodle, GoogleApps for Education all empower students and teachers to connect and collaborate, not only teacher to student but student to student.

Although there are many other elements that are relevant to BYOD, I'm leaning towards these 3 as the most important.

What do you think would make teachers use BYOD in classroom instruction? in student engagement?

Student engagement is a funny thing, but I've yet to find any human being--child or adult--that doesn't get excited about what they've created. So, the most important thing to do is to transition from research to curation, from consumption to creation, from individual contribution to collaborative connections. How do you accomplish that? There are a million approaches, and you don't have to do all of that in one learning activity...but you do have to do something, take one step.

Consider this first step by one high school teacher:

In my sophomore classroom we are working on a persuasion unit. Instead of asking students to look at a prompt and write an essay we have embarked on developing arguments for a Town Hall Debate. Students picked their own topics using a collaborative brainstorming organizer online. They then have been working in groups gathering articles in order to prepare for the opening argument, points, counterpoints, rebuttal, and closing statement.  
I have been amazed at how engaged my students have been with this assignment. I have several classes that are high Spec. Ed and even my lowest students, who I struggle to engage on most days, have been working hard and are engaged in the project. We introduced Google Docs, which presented some initial confusion, but they quickly got the hang of it. Students have been collaborating daily and have produced some powerful writing that they are passionate about. They are all excited to come back from Spring Break to start the digital ad component.

I also like this story from a third grade bilingual teacher. It's not that the tech usage was high, but that this was a first step, a new effort. It's great to share this as a beginning step.

If you can help change your own perspectives in these 3 areas--using tech for more than research, consumption, contribution--then you will have fundamentally transformed how learning happens in a BYOD classroom.

Do I have any examples of that? Well, no I don't. But why limit yourself to what *I* know? There's a world of educators who already do this--content curation, creation, and collaborative connections--on a daily basis with their students...perhaps, more importantly, there are students who do this on a daily basis with each other and their teachers.

If there's anything that's become more true is that, as human beings, we must be invited to change what we do. Again, I'm reminded of Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet:
The teacher who walks in the shadow of the temple, among his followers, gives not of his wisdom but rather of his faith and his lovingness.
If he is indeed wise he does not bid you enter the house of wisdom, but rather leads you to the threshold of your own mind. 
The astronomer may speak to you of his understanding of space, but he cannot give you his understanding.
The musician may sing to you of the rhythm which is in all space, but he cannot give you the ear which arrests the rhythm nor the voice that echoes it.
And he who is versed in the science of numbers can tell of the regions of weight and measure, but he cannot conduct you thither. 
For the vision of one man lends not its wings to another man. 
And even as each one of you stands alone in God's knowledge, so must each one of you be alone in his knowledge of God and in his understanding of the earth.

BYOD, like anything else, must be about helping each learner find and cross the threshold of one's own mind. Success, or failure, is measured by our ability to bring about these changes in ourselves and others, not unlike a mid-wife facilitating a birth.

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


JM @ ClassLink said…
In this process of exploring the many benefits of BYOD to help students develop more skills and spark interest for their minds, the teacher/educator really need to step up and provide good guidance and support for these eager learners.

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