How To Get Started With A BYOD Classroom

byod2Having a BYOD classroom can be a great way to bring technology into your classroom when you might not otherwise have it. You’re letting your students use technology that they’re likely quite familiar with, and both teachers and parents agree that students are much more engaged when they’re using technology. But implementing a BYOD classroom can also be an absolute nightmare if you don’t plan well. Instead of highly engaged students easily using their devices, you may find yourself with some students unable to load an app, others unable to connect to wifi, and your school IT specialist adding a filter for your name to his email inbox.

So how can you implement a BYOD classroom without pulling your hair out and wasting more time than you have in the first place? In his classes on implementing BYOD, Adam Webster states that you’ll need “You’ll need internet access, a lot of patience, and the willingness to be wrong sometimes” to implement a BYOD program. So with that in mind, here are a few more considerations before you get started.

Set Realistic Expectations

Before you go through implementing BYOD, you need to clearly think through what you expect out of the program. Is the goal you’re trying to accomplish teaching students a particular concept with a specific app or web tool? Or are you trying to enhance your lesson plan with interactivity, multi media, and access to a wide variety of information? I’ll give you a hint: the latter is going to be a better idea than the former.

That said, the former is not impossible by any stretch, it is just going to require a lot more planning, patience, and managing your expectations of what the task will involve. (File under: next bullet point). If you know what you’re in for, and you’re ready for it, getting everyone up and going with their task will be much less stressful.

Plan Thoroughly

Even the seemingly best laid plans can set you up for failure if you don’t think them through. Maybe you’ve found an amazing app that teaches the concept you need to cover in class perfectly and you’ve imagined a great lesson plan for it. You sat down on your couch the night before, double checked the app, walked through the entire thing, and made notes for scenarios that might crop up while your students are using the app in class.

Fast forward to the next morning when you find out that your class has been moved to another room because the roof is leaking and you don’t get a very strong wireless signal in the classroom. Some of your students can’t seem to log onto the network at all, and others can’t navigate their device with your directions because you have a different device than they do. And you had your entire lesson planned around this app. Hopefully there was a plan B!

Universality is Best

When you’re with your students in a computer lab or in a 1:1 device classroom that has been set up by your school, specific apps and websites are great. You can get everyone on the same page and working on the same thing. In BYOD this concept doesn’t exist in any sort of simple reality.

With BYOD, you’re working with students on a wide variety of devices, and not all apps are universal. Not all devices will easily connect to the wifi in certain areas, and you may arrive at issues with some programs running better on one device than another. You’re better off using the devices for a more universal purpose – like researching a specific topic on the web – than having the students use a particular app. This way, they’re working with a basic device functionality that they all have and using it to enhance the lesson, not to be the lesson itself.

5 Comments

  1. smjack813

    September 6, 2013 at 11:27 am

    Hey Ketie, interesting post. Liked it. I would like to add 1 more point here in continuing with “You’ll need internet access, a lot of patience, the willingness to be wrong sometimes and strong security or protection for devices”. Probability of getting the data hack or the data loss will be also increase with the use BYOD. Student can get easily access to some critical information, which need to be kept safe. So we need to have a strong security and good backup software too. Currently, I’m implementing use of BYOD in our computer lab. I’m using some software like Deep Freeze, Insight by Faronics. They are working fine for me. May be it will help them those who are going to test or currently implementing the BYOD.

    Again thanks for the great post. Cheers.

    - Jack Smith

  2. Ian Hecht

    September 7, 2013 at 11:11 pm

    As an addendum to your #3, I find that if you focus on skills rather than apps, students can pick the program they’re most comfortable with (because they’ve used it on their device before). The Framework for 21st Century Skills was super-helpful in my own thought processes around this. We used to teach “PowerPoint”, but now it’s just “Presentation” and if students want to use PP, they can, but they can just as easily choose Prezi or Glogster or Pages.

    Great article!

    • Jen LaMaster

      September 16, 2013 at 8:41 am

      Completely agree, Ian. We began our 1:1 BYOT journey 4 years ago (now in 2nd year full implementation) with the objectives that the student will:
      1. Assess their learning need
      2. Evaluation resources/tools available to meet their need
      3. Use the resources/tools effectively

      Now I hear more about presentations, writing curriculum and research strategies rather than software and “follow the bouncing mouse” tech instruction. Our program details can be found at http://brebeuf.org/academics/byot/

  3. kspang

    September 11, 2013 at 9:48 am

    Thank you for this insight. We are working towards a BYOD policy in our school. This was very helpful.

  4. Adam

    September 16, 2013 at 4:58 am

    BYOD in schools has become a popular (and controversial) topic in education. Besides the educational challenges, there are also many technical challenges involved in BYOD in schools, such as device management, security and more.

    Download the White Paper: “BYOD and K-12: Building Blocks to Universal Learning Environments” for ideas on leveraging BYOD to create interactive learning environments and increase student participation.

    https://www.ericom.com/wp-byod-k-12.asp?URL_ID=708

    Please note that I work for Ericom