Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Emotional Implications of BYOD

I've been trying many different avenues to bring the most technology into my classroom that I can. A teacher at my school studied and very successfully piloted a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) program at my middle school. I was really excited to hear about this initiative and was eager to put it to use in my own classroom. However, things didn't go quite as I had planned...

 Let me backtrack for a moment. At the beginning of the year, I had sent the students home with a technology survey, asking about their computer and internet access when they are away from school. I did this for the sole purpose of not setting children up to fail and assigning them work that they may not have the resources to complete when they aren't at school. One thing that I did not ask about on my survey was mobile devices or cell phones. I find it hard to believe that I made this kind of oversight, but I think that I fell victim to the notion that mobile devices (mostly phones) are SO pervasive that literally everyone has one. My first attempt at BYOD made it clear that this is not the case.

If you read my initial post about this tech survey, I mention how potentially embarrassing it could be to admit you don't have internet access at home. Why did I not think about how embarrassing it would be to say "Okay, kids, take out your devices!" only to have several students look around sheepishly. I had even prepared materials IN CASE there were students who didn't have a device to use. Looking back, I think that I just didn't expect that I would have to actually use them. There was a palpable discomfort among my students without devices to the point that I have not had another BYOD day in my classroom.

I think my love of tech has been firmly established and I think BYOD is a great and truly cost effective tool for bringing technology into the classroom. However, I care much more about my students and the fact that I want none of them to ever feel alienated in my room. My school doesn't have a cart of mobile devices to check out to supplement for the students who don't have one of their own, so there is very much a distinction between those who can do the assignment digitally and those who have to do the paper version. I've considered having the students work in pairs or threes, making certain that each group has at least one person with a device, but I'm unsure if that would help.

That being said, I think I will hold off on doing BYOD until I can provide equal options for my students who don't have devices of their own to bring.

Has anyone else experienced anything like this? What are your thoughts and how have you handled it?

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