BYOD (in a post-DER world)

State schools in NSW are grappling with a post-DER world. The Digital Education Revolution funding from the federal government provided Lenovo laptops, technical support and wireless coverage to schools. For the last 5 years Year 9 students have been issued with a laptop. That has all evaporated with no funding from the state government to continue any aspect of the program, including Technical Support Officers who help students and teachers with their devices, managing all aspects of the rollout. There are approximately 600 devices in our school to continue to be managed but no funding to do so.

Our school does not know, due to administrative reform, our budget for next year. It is challenging to plan how we will fund technical support or what technology students will have in Years 7-9. There are three options we are considering:

  • a) LOCKED DOWN – provide the laptops (or devices) for students
  • b) REQUIREMENTS – Provide parents with the preferred devices, software and retailers
  • c) BYO ANYTHING – as long as it connects to the internet

 

Option A will result in many parents not purchasing the device offered by the school and we do not have funding or a TSO to manage the devices the school as we have done for the last 5 years. Option B is the most likely to suit parents, teachers and the students. The devices listed need to be considered carefully. The key issue is to decide what software is a requirement and what will be provided. No support, other than connection to wireless will be offered. Option C is likely to limit what teachers and students can do and, at this stage of the school’s tech trajectory, is probably best avoided or deferred.

2014 looms large and decisions need to be made. Pedagogy must be considered first and foremost but considerations about the far-reaching decisions being made about the role of corporations in Public Education should be thought about deeply too. Digital citizenship becomes even more important, as does being critically literate in a rapidly-evolving, changing world. Although it sounds trite, one needs to make the best of the situation and find opportunity for students. However, just imagine the army asking all their soldiers to ‘bring their own weapon of choice’ due to funding cuts? Oddly enough, it personally suits me for students to BYO(anything) but teaching staff have a number of serious reservations about this approach. Equity is a key concern.

All three options will likely create equity issues that need to be resolved. It is challenging to plan for this reality at the moment as the school does not have a good idea of our funding, as a ‘Empowering Local Schools’ pilot participant. State schools await BYOD policy and legal advice to be completed and distributed. There are a range of issues that parents, students and teachers need to understand. A literature review and other resources are provided here.

In an era of managerial reform, there is an inherent irony that, regardless of what changes are made, students will have to write fast, in a pen and paper exam, just as their grandparents did.

Leadership, anyone?

Featured image: cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo by Darcy Moore: http://flickr.com/photos/darcymoore/8617915931/

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The views expressed at this site are my own and do not necessarily represent those of my employer.

15 Comments

  1. Troy:

    How would you order the issues surrounding BYOD? Security? Equity?
    Are the laptops or other devices going to be used for more than typing or research? I can’t see after ten years of professional development that you could go back to the old ‘disconnected’ classroom.

    • Darcy Moore:

      Thanks Troy. Schools do have an option D. Do nothing and return to paper and pens for Y9 in 2014. It will be interesting to see if any do that.

  2. Jeff Vader:

    This is linked to the problem of teachers who act openly to promote a BRAND though their endorsement at conferences etc., This isn’t new, but combined with the broad strategy to create habitual attention patterns to brands, I personally have huge issues with BYOD culture. Not simply as it destroys what little equity was attempted during the DER, but it infects the family. There are several ‘teachers’ clearly more invested in brands than is ethical, and then force their view on others using idioms and social-media bias.

    As you say, the nothing much has changed in regards to summative assessment, but clearly the division between enabled and disconnect is growing. If I was in a position of leadership in a school – I would be seriously questioning the role of a teacher whom actively endorses and promotes a brand via public channels, as clearly it creates issues around many things, not least habitualisation of minors and freedom of choice.

    I have no issue in using any brand/software to achieve an outcome, but at what point did it become the hallmark of scholarship to wear t-shirts on Google stands, to be told about Australian education by people who have never taught in the system or even accredited to do so. How kids and families are supposed to deal with this lunacy blows my mind.

    Yes, remove all media/branding from schools and set an open access agenda in stone. Right now the place is over-run with unproven, unethical rubbish which leads to the situation you’ve presented so well Darcy.

    Me, I want no part of it. But plenty will.

    • I don’t quite get this attitude. How does BYOD promote a “brand” in any particular way? Based on this idea, how can you view DER as anything other than an endorsement and promotion of Microsoft/Lenovo/Adobe?

      If anything, BYOD is brandless by design, with the good and bad associated from that. There are many options, for many people, to suit many budgets.

      I agree with Darcy that equity is the biggest concern. But I think just as bigger problem will be an abandonment of digital teaching by too many teachers who viewed DER as hard enough already, and without the obvious focus and training provided by DER they will abandon it all together. The drop-off among too many teachers (and their schools) versus the commitment to maintain this from (I suspect a minority) of teachers will be an equity issue for students as big as the budget question.

  3. Darcy
    Wow I’m amazed that something as complex as BYOD can be as simple as choosing a single flavor from a 5L tub of Neapolitan ice cream. Rather than choosing between Chocolate, Vanilla and Strawberry why not get your students to solve the problem. You may find they already have (and have been BYOD/Ting for a long time), just no one asked them.

    Ben :-)

    • Darcy Moore:

      Thankyou Ben. All students are being surveyed. The issue is to do with funding, as you know, and how we manage an existing fleet without a TSO or knowledge of budget. Across our nation some will have cream others something more sour. Equity in education. That is all.

      BTW I see the Germans have abolished tuition fees at a tertiary level but in Australia they are soaring and funding is being reduced.

      • I wonder how engaged a students feels in a process when they are zoomeranged or surveymonkeyed but never get to designer and deliver the final product. Why not form a BYOD student council, clearly define the problem and stakeholders then let them advise you on the solution.

        The Germans? Just don’t mention the war, I did and I’m not sure I got away with it!

        Ben :-)

        • Darcy Moore:

          We had a team of kids for the laptops and will plan to do the same with our emerging #BYOD policy/plan. What is your school planning, Ben? :)

  4. C.

    • Darcy Moore:

      Thanks Jason, are you able to elucidate? How does your school approach the situation? What are the challenges? What is your #ICSEA?

  5. Hi Darcy,

    A quick polemic:

    It would take a great deal of courage, but I would go for option C.

    I find that 1:1 initiatives are driven not by budgets or even pedagogy but by three false assumptions disguised as budget and pedagogy arguments. They are: that everyone needs to have more or less the same stuff, that everyone has to do the same task at more or less the same time, and that a laptop/tablet is the pinnacle tool.

    When I see these assumptions at work, I take them as a sign that the thinking hasn’t yet shifted from industrial model education. For example, the lock-step approach to education works very well for didactic-Cartesian models of learning. But technology, even a single web-connected device in a classroom, opens wild possibilities for true collaborative learning; think along the lines of Alan November’s digital learning farm. Likewise, I think champions of the laptop are really championing the thing they know best–a typewriter. Again, nothing inherently wrong with a laptop, but it is a legacy of industrial model education. I have a late model MacBook Air and a three-year old MacBook Pro and together they don’t come close to the capability of my iPhone.

    But it’s the equity argument I find particular is misleading. We don’t need equity in access to devices; we need equity of access to the web and a whole classroom of students can have that with a single Internet connected device and a projector. Likewise, of we ta group of students all at different tasks can bring the group to a better understanding.

    If not option C, then find a way to bring in a bunch of iPod touches. Much cheaper than most other devices, almost zero maintenance and they’re much more powerful educationally than laptops. Chromebooks are also great, cheap web devices.

    • Darcy Moore:

      Thanks Brad. As I mentioned, BYO(anything) suits me personally but the school context, of having a large fleet of Lenovo laptops and losing out technical support officers through funding cuts, means we have a ‘locked down’ system that will likely run/need to be managed for 3 more years. Our school was successful in having the kids bring and use their laptops. Many others were not and are less concerned with the demise of this federally funded project (which badly needed updating anyway as netbooks were fine 5 years ago but are now superseded).

      NSW state schools all have, of course, a wider context that makes the #BYOD change challenging to with other extensive funding cuts. Equity is an issue across our system (the devices issues is minor in this respect) and the idea, often pushed, that all the kids will love bringing their own gear is just not accurate. Most would say it suits economic considerations to push #BYOD and has very little to do with pedagogical theory. 1 in 10 Australian kids live below the poverty line. We need funding to ensure that this is not accentuated even further as students supply shiny new devices and others have nought.

  6. Henry Jones:

    You missed the EduTech conference, obviously. I rather foolishly broke my leg so ended up not going. The people who did report that the BYOD option is alive and well in NSW, that some schools began preparations for this last year. One presenter, an Alice Leung from Sydney somewhere, outlined a strategy we had already implemented. We had not gone as far in our thinking as her school had in using the expertise of students but it strikes me as being simple and effective. I have been reviewing the keynote speakers and they are all suggesting similar things.
    1. Trust your students.
    2. Embrace the future, don’t be afraid of it
    3. Be imaginative, it does not necessarily mean expensive.
    Some speakers seem to suggest that national curriculums and standardised testing were farcical theatrics and did not address any of the problems in education. I have to agree with that.
    As for equity issues, the creeping privatisation of education is creating the mess we are seeing now. That Labor governments go along with this nonsense is more disturbing than the elitist Liberals proposing and supporting it. If you want to combat that, then would ot not be better for you to encourage friends, parents and everyone else you can reach to join a political party and fight to get their education policies changed?

  7. It’s not about the type of device, it’s about the type of teacher.
    Great discussions happening here…the learning is in the tension and conflict.

  8. Anthony:

    Nice comment. I fully agree. I am a head of science in a department high school and have been trying to bring up this issue at an executive level, but with the new curriculum, ESSE, ROSA in year 11, etc, etc, ave not been able to get the issue air. ncredibly frustrating. ONe gets the feeling the department would like the issue to just die.
    You are right, “Leadership anyone” is the key. I think it might be up to schools to lead this issue.
    The question is What can we do to bring this to a head?
    Unfortunately students will have to bring there own. Schools will not have the resources to have ownership of anything except the network. What will a classroom look like with one student working from their $4000 apple, while the students next to them has an old school lenovo rented to them by the school?
    Equity between students in the same classroom is one thing, then there is equity between students from different schools and and then there is the issue of equity between students from differnt systems.

    thanks for this discussion.

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