This week’s blog probably hit closest to home for me. My final project is to design a Digital Citizenship/Safety course for students in junior high to take to in order to earn Bring Your Own Device access to our network. Our school is lacking in BYOD policies outside of a simple Internet Use Agreement, and so the discussions generated this week were very relevant and helpful for me in solidifying my approach.
The big question for me was what happens if a student abuses the technology access? Should schools take away that technology as it becomes so closely paired with their education? If you are asking teachers to go digital and depart from traditional paper and pencil assignments, physical textbooks, etc.… can you deny students that access if it is critical for earning a grade? My realization is that more than likely there will need to be other consequences for inappropriate uses such as detentions and suspensions for initial violations. I asked this question several times of my peers but we didn’t seem to hit on a consensus agreement on how this would be handled. I know that is out of the scope of the assignment… but it does seem to be a very real roadblock that schools will have to deal with as BYOD policies become prevalent. Ultimately, in discussion with Tristan, it seemed to make sense that if a series of abuses occur then students will lose technology privileges and will need to be given paper and pencil alternatives.
My other realization this week was that just because you create an infrastructure and policy that allows for digital devices in the classroom, does not in itself guarantee a greater learning environment. Teachers will need to develop skills, procedures and rules to help them manage the devices and will need proper training on how to utilize the technology in educationally beneficial ways. There are many management techniques available out there but teachers and students will need practice in working this out. Some teachers just aren’t going to embrace BYOD and I think the best thing to do is keep working with them and hopefully they will see the benefits. I don’t think the way our school system is structured that forcing teachers into compliance is going to open the door for a smooth transition.
BYOD policies are needed in every school. Even elementary students will have access to digital devices that can get on the Internet. It is important that we educate students on appropriate uses on digital citizenship, copyrights, and cyber bullying early or they will form bad habits that could have devastating consequences. Students mostly agree it is wrong to walk into a music store and steal a CD… but downloading illegal music doesn’t appear wrong to as many youth. We need to engage in digital citizenship discussions early and often. This is not just a training that a group of students needs to have one time with one teacher and then they are set. The community, parents, administration, and teachers all need to partner together to ensure that a BYOD rollout leads to quality educational benefits for the students. Sticking our heads in the sand and pretending that these challenges don’t exist and that students will figure out how to handle digital situations when they are grown up is a fairly ignorant approach. Proactive cyber citizenship education in partnership with a BYOD policy will help our students be prepared for the digital world.