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Inside a ‘Bring Your Own Device’ program

In what has become a popular trend, students bring their own educational technology to Pennsylvania’s Hanover High School

After only a week, students say the program seems to be saving time and is less hassle than accessing the school's own ed-tech devices.

The Hanover High School students walked into their environmental science class, sat at the round black tables, and got out their class materials.

The three-ring binders, notebooks, pens, and pencils were placed out of arm’s reach. Instead, the students placed in front of themselves a laptop and a cell phone.

Teacher Jason Suter picked up a remote control on his desk. With a couple of clicks, the first question of the day appeared on a Wiffiti board, a board that allows real-time messages to appear on its white screen.

The question was, “Do you think that Apple is an environmentally friendly company?”

“Pick up your phones,” Suter said. “Text ‘yes’ using this number and ‘no’ using this one.”

Through text messaging, the students answered the question. And as the texts came in, a bar graph began to form on the Wiffiti board, showing the number and percentage of students that had answered yes and the number that said no.

“That’s us sending it right now?” one of the students asked as the bar graph continued to move with every sent text.

It is, Suter said. And it wasn’t the only piece of educational technology they would go on to use in class.

The students have been keeping environmental science blogs that they update each week. Suter’s Oct. 7 class was devoted to each student reading another’s blog, grading it, and commenting on it—creating a discussion that students could continue outside of school.

And for the most part, it was all done on the students’ own computers or digital devices.

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Comments:

  1. soapbox

    October 11, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    Great to see another school adopt the BYOT policy. Leveraging the power of these devices creates a more efficient classroom. This is exactly why we built SoapBox.

    http://gosoapbox.com/ref/external_blog

  2. sabier

    October 12, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    The next big question is how to record the results of the quizzes (formative assessments) for retrieval and forwarding. An accumulation of such quizzes would create a summative assessment of learning, and by analysis, enable evaluation of teacher performance.

    • marks

      October 17, 2011 at 6:18 pm

      I’m not sure WIFFTI allows for that. They’d probably have to use something like Promethean’s Activexpressions.

  3. jessievaz

    October 13, 2011 at 2:03 am

    Thank you for an excellent insight into what it looks like at a BYOD school. My school is considering moving in this direction and it is great to be able to use posts like these to help those at my school see the “vision” more clearly. Thanks! @jessievaz12

  4. ctdahle

    October 18, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    Just fine for schools in wealthy areas where all the kids have these tools and the parents are happy to pay for the air time.

    As with everything else, the educational haves, gets, while the have-nots lose even more.

    • jksuter

      October 21, 2011 at 10:11 pm

      ctdahle, I really have to disagree with your comment. To my knowledge more than 70% of the students at Hanover High School receive free and reduced lunch. I am not certain what is considered the “educational haves” but I am fairly certain this does not qualify us as a wealthy school. The fact of the matter is, parents are willing to provide their children with iPods, phones, tablets, netbooks, and laptops. All our school has done is allowed students to use the devices they already own on our network. You will undoubtably point out that not every student owns their own device. Well, that is exactly why we put the policy in place. Every time a student brings their own device to school with them, they free up one of the school owned devices for another student to use. We have laptops available in our library for students to check out in the evening as well. Also, many lessons can be accomplished on iPods and phones. When I can make use of the technology students have in their pockets, that frees up a laptop cart for another teacher to use. Not to mention, sometimes a phone or iPod can accomplish the task much quicker. A poll of a little over a quarter of the students (mostly freshman) revealed the following: 86 – 90% carry a cell phone to school, over 50% own a laptop, 46% of the phones are smart phones. Do you really want to continue telling students to turn off their electronic devices and stash them in their lockers? Isn’t the more responsible thing to teach them how to make use of their technology and use it as an educational tool? At first glance it might look like the have-nots are losing out, but the reality is this is a creative way to begin leveling the playing field.