I like technology in the classroom and I’m very much in favour of BOYD – Bring Your Own Device. I think where possible, as long as the school are buying reasonably priced devices which are no better or no worse than the average device owned by the students, a mixture of BOYD and school owned devices is a happy medium to ensure that everyone in the classroom has access to a device.
At Key Stage 4 and 5 I especially think there is good reason to allow students to have access to mobile devices. These are some examples that students in these years have benefitted from using mobile devices:
- A shared annotated script using a shared Kindle account that was downloaded onto their own Kindles / iPads and iPhones.
- Some sixth students like to take their notes and organise themselves on a mobile device (as I do too! – I take electronic notes at all my meetings and use iDoceo as a teacher planner).
- Often in Drama students are created devised performances that require initial research or very quick research. For example a group might want to quickly see a photograph of someone from 1980’s Liverpool Dole Queue to understand and see their body language. A quick search via their own mobile device is much quicker than sharing out the teacher’s computer or sending them to the ICT suite. It is also much more user friendly to have the device at the point of action.
- Students often want to add music to their pieces of theatre and their mobile device holds all their music.
- I use a lot of Flipped Learning and Blended Learning activities and allowing students to access these on their mobile devices during the lesson helps to enable the students to access that extra information in the class.
- An excellent little internet site called Poll Everywhere allows students (or others) to text a number for free with an answer to a question which is then, in real time, presented on screen. I love this. I often have a a double sixth form lesson that goes over a break time, so just before break I set them a question such as “Words to describe the character of Nora in A Doll’s House” and over the course of the break they text in their answers. It is like they never went for a break at all!
These are examples that are all free and available on all smart mobile devices that students can access very easily to support their learning and to make it easier to access relevant information to their needs. This doesn’t take into all the countless free and paid apps that are available which could be beneficial to students.
All of this does, of course, need to be implemented with a strong set of rules and sanctions as a usage policy which sees students using mobile devices, especially phones, for only the purposes stated in the policy and not for personal use such as texting or making phone calls.