Inspired by a recent #edchat poll for possible discussion topics: if the choice were yours, would you rather your school adopt 1:1 laptops, bring-your-own devices (BYOD), or a little-to-no approach to educational technology?
A minimalist approach to technology (MAT)
Perhaps those a bit more savvy when it comes to educational technology (ET) might find it strange to still hear the argument that bringing devices into schools does little to advance student learning. Forget the ubiquity of current technologies, students do not learn any differently today than they did in the past, the argument goes. Educators have gotten by without using technology in the past while student learning has not suffered, some may claim. But is this still really a sound argument?
Bring-your-own device (BYOD)
Bring your own devices is the answer. Most students already have some type of mobile device already: cell phones, tablets, laptops, etc., so why not adapt curriculum, assessment, and instruction in such a way that allows students to interact with content on their own terms. Plus, this is a cheaper solution that 1:1 laptops (or tablets)! Why not allow students to interact with content when and where they feel most inspired to do so? Would this afford greater levels of differentiated instruction and assessment that would support the claim that what we do in schools should adhere to the needs, interests, and learning preferences of the student?
1:1 technologies (1:1)
It’s best to adopt a 1:1 approach to ET. Students all have the same device which makes it easier to control how students should use their devices for educational purposes. School administrators and educators know what’s best when it comes to how devices should be used in schools, so let’s limit what students can access, when they can access content, etc. For example, let’s limit the use of Facebook and other social media websites so not to cause a distraction for students. This is why a BYOD approach does not work. Imagine the problems educators would have if students had full access to information all day while educators design and implement learning experiences around a set of learning objectives.
Asking more relevant questions
Should we be asking which would educators rather have: MAT, BYOD, or 1:1? Imagine if educational stakeholders (i.e., anyone interested in improving student achievement in schools) instead ask questions that pertained to current situations: What approach to ET most relates to your situation: MAT, BYOD, 1:1? What recent problems have you faced and how have you been working towards possible solutions?
Let’s avoid asking abstract, predictive, questions that frame certain approaches as better than others, and instead ask more relevant and meaningful questions that allow educational stakeholders to set problems in terms of possible local solutions, which others might find insightful. Let’s focus on evidence-based observations instead of hypotheticals.
So I ask…How would you frame current challenges you face with educational technology and higher student achievement within your own educational context? How have you (educator, administrator, etc.) worked towards a possible solution?