Almost two years ago, I wrote an article for eSchool News entitled, “The Advantages of the BYOT Classroom.” At the time, I was the Coordinator of Instructional Technology for Forsyth County Schools in Georgia, and the advantages that I listed were the qualities that I had observed in classrooms that effectively utilized Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) to transform teaching and learning opportunities with students’ personal technology tools.
Now, I’m collaborating with several schools and districts around the country that are beginning to implement Personalized Learning to better connect students with engaging academic content; to facilitate the development of digital age skills; and to utilize technology to provide access to anytime, anywhere learning.
As teachers begin to shift toward greater personalized learning experiences for students, their initial steps build upon what they already know from face-to-face instruction. Districts usually provide teachers with easy to use Learning Management Systems (LMS) that can facilitate new learning opportunities with technology. However, the greatest potential of learning with technology tools is that teachers and students can transform the traditional learning environment, processes, and products. Just providing teachers with an organizational tool, such as an LMS, will not lead to transformative practices. Teachers need on-going support if they are to truly transform their classrooms into ecosystems for digital age learning.
When discussing Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT), the issue of equity is always a concern; however, schools have many issues with equity regarding learning opportunities. Teachers within a school may utilize different teaching methods and strategies, so students may utilize different resources for different purposes. Some teachers choose to use project-based learning to engage students with content at school. Other teachers work especially hard to create and nurture a caring learning community, and they understand what motivates and inspires their students to learn regardless of the obstacles in their lives. Schools often have varying availability and access to digital tools and resources. This access might be due to the resources students already have in their lives and that they bring from home, but sometimes it’s due to the ingenuity and vision of the school leadership to pursue every available avenue to ensure student success.
We have all witnessed the Passback Effect when sitting in a restaurant, and to keep a young child content and quiet, parents hand over their own technology device. This phenomenon also occurs when parents pass smartphones or tablets to their children in the backseat of the car or in a shopping cart. The result is usually the same as the child becomes enamored with the device, and the parents earn several precious moments of silence. What are the children doing with the device? Most likely, they are playing a familiar game, but they could also be taking photos, listening to music, surfing websites, etc. The possibilities are endless, since they are holding the doorway to all of humankind’s recorded history within their little fingers.
In facilitating the integration of technology tools within classrooms, I’ve heard teachers complain that devices can be distracting. This was also one of the fears that Lisa Nielsen (@innovativeEdu) addressed in a recent blog post – Confronting Fears – #BYOD for Students. The idea that technology itself is a distraction to students is a myth. It is perpetuated by educators who believe that banning technology will keep students more focused on the learning happening within the classroom.
As individuals, we store plenty of video on the Cloud, with YouTube being the greatest example of Cloud-hosted video. When we want to play video at home, we can almost certainly stream it from the Cloud with a fairly high probability of success and without much buffering. The exceptions would typically be if more than one family member was streaming/downloading video or gaming at a time, which may or may not create bottlenecks, depending upon the bandwidth provided by your Internet service.
It is with great pride and pleasure that I can start the year off by saying that SAFARI Montage is now being used in over 10,000 public schools across the United States. The SAFARI Montage platform, which consists of a Video Streaming Library, Learning Object Repository, Digital Learning Platform and IPTV solution, is being used nationwide by over 5 million students and half a million teachers.
Technology is changing the way we do just about everything; from how we communicate and socialize to how we conduct business. Now, increasingly more, technology is disrupting how we teach and how we learn. I believe that by the year 2020 classrooms as we know them today will not exist. What do we know about the traditional classroom?
Schlessinger Media has published more than 1,000 educational video programs for the U.S. K-12 core curriculum, and our attention to accuracy, as well as offering a balance of perspectives, is essential to what we do. In producing a video entitled Remembering September 11th for grades 4-6, we addressed the difficult topic of why the terrorists attacked the U.S. on September 11, 2001.