Some thoughts on creating a more ambitious vision for our schools

Note: I’m participating in a discussion about BYOD in a few hours, these notes are an attempt to somewhat prepare!

I believe that modern technology is disrupting and transforming both the way people learn and what they learn. And I believe that schools and school communities need to face up to fact that we need to radically change our pedagogy to leverage these wonderful opportunities, because if we don’t then education of our students will be compromised.

BYOD is a bad idea for a number of reasons:

1. BYOD focuses on the wrong thing from which we will most likely end up with policies and technologies that are unambitious and inequitable. I won’t go over the ground that Stager has about dumbing down to the lowest device and inequality between the rich and poor but let me say schools and teachers need to be the drivers and informers for what and how technology is used in their classrooms. By asking our students (and their families) to drive technology use in our schools we are running up the white flag and admitting we don’t have a clue about how modern technology should be best used in formal education. Rather we need an ambitious vision for learning with modern technology, an ambitious vision that is determined and articulated by informed, qualified educators.

2. For all of the problems its proponents claim it solves, there are better solutions than BYOD. Despite the fact BYOD may appear to “fix” some bad schools policies, for example over restrictive technology policies, in reality it doesn’t fix these problems but rather provides a work around. In most cases the policies will remain with the erroneous core beliefs still in place, and other bad policies still in effect. Instead, we should tackle these problems head on, so that the effectiveness of use of technology in schools is maximised. Anything less is a compromise for our students’ learning.

3. BYOD allows school leaders who don’t want to face up to the realities of learning with modern technologies, a way out. BYOD allows schools to say they have a role for modern technology without really having one, it is a Claytons solution. By allowing a 1 to 1 program to be set up with little “buy in” from the school community as whole, maybe skilled and technology passionate educators can operate successfully, but there is no way we will see systematic change unless the ambitious vision is owned by the whole school community. As more and more schools are thankfully undertaking a move towards a technology rich learning environment I think we need to be clear and strict describing what the pedagogical vision is for our schools and whether BYOD (or for that matter iPad/tablet programs) are an end-point or rather a transition because proper 1 to 1 is currently too hard for us.

4. We need an ambitious pedagogical vision, one in which modern technology offers disruptive and transformative possibilites for learning that is inquiry-based, self-directed and socially constructed.

 

I imagine that many might argue that I’m being too ambitious and unrealistic given how schools must operate within current curriculum and assessment demands. I’d be more convinced by this argument if those advocating and evangelising for “devices” and BYOD hadn’t experienced new ways of learning with modern technology. However, the most of the people visibly promoting BYOD (and its unambitious vision) use modern technology in radically different ways in their own personal learning. While these evangelists continue to advocate for learning in schools which is different from their own personal learning (with modern technology), their students will continue to experience a compromised education.

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