Tim Clark, CIO Advisor
How it begins…
When students first bring in their own technology devices for a BYOT initiative, the energy in the classroom crackles with their excitement. They are eager to share how they use those tools for connecting to others, consuming content, and playing games. Teachers usually prepare an introductory activity designed to help their students explore how to learn with BYOT. There are many discussions about apps, websites, networks, and hardware. However, there is a potential for magic to happen through consistent use, high expectations, and sheer determination. The devices blend into the normal part of the process of learning, and the technology becomes invisible. The teachers who are able to conduct that magic trick possess a common understanding—BYOT is a mindset, and here’s the secret; it isn’t about technology after all.
What it is…
The BYOT Mindset is a deeply ingrained (in your bones, even) conviction that students can and should own the learning (or at least share it with their teachers). Just as they own their technology devices, most students also possess an understanding of software, processes, and media that have to be acknowledged as possibilities for deeper learning. The BYOT mindset is more than the understanding of a technology device (most students don’t automatically know how to learn with their technology); rather, the BYOT mindset also takes into consideration that the students have particular knowledge of applications that may be beneficial for their learning.
How you embrace it…
As teachers, we often think that our job is to direct the learning in the classroom. We concoct the perfect recipe of lecture, project, practice, and assessment to lead to student mastery of a concept. However, what would happen if we challenged the students with a relevant question and had them research information and propose solutions to real-world problems? Ideally, this situation would lead to greater student engagement and relevancy. The students can utilize their own technology tools in this pursuit of learning, as needed. Teachers can embrace the BYOT mindset by trusting that their students will be connected to their learning as they are challenged to discover for themselves new solutions to authentic problems.
By exhibiting the following five behaviors, teachers can venture along the path to embracing the BYOT mindset.
1. Share control of the learning.
2. Ask more questions than give answers.
3. Realize that BYOT is about understanding as well as devices.
4. Provide access to rich content and resources.
5. Trust your students as members of a learning community.
Tim Clark is coordinator of instructional technology for Forsyth County Schools in Georgia. This blog is cross posted on BYOT Network.