I failed! I started this year with many assets: I had a lot of experience working with digital technology and students, I had read/thought/learned a lot, I had 10 IPods, 3 Macs, 3 desk tops, and access to 3 ABEL laptops for ½ the day, I also had a nice, personable class of 28 students. With all these assets, I decided to operate a BYOD classroom with free and open technology to be integrated as needed in all subject areas. In spite of all these assets, it was with reluctance and regret that I found myself banning the use of all digital technology (at the suggestion of my principal) in our class on December 18. I hope that it’s only temporary, but I’m not sure. Having struggled for 4 months, I had to concede that it wasn’t enhancing their learner; quite the opposite, it was detracting from their learning.
How will I ever attend an edcamp again; how will I tell Heidi Siwak, Monica Batac, Stephen Hurley, colleagues at CEA and all the other individuals who helped me reach the point where I thought I could run a BYOD classroom?
The problem is I’m not quite certain why it failed. I couldn’t get the students to buy in. Very few of them use the technology to aid their learning. The primary uses were listening to music, playing flash games, and texting for social reasons. Using it for academic purposes was a distant 4th. I couldn’t get them to a point where they could resist the temptation of distraction and focus on their learning tasks/goals.
Sure, there were some who used it well and seamlessly in their learning. They’d make a quick search to find something to add to a discussion, or look on Google images to see examples of art to help them learn technique; however, this was not the majority experience. Whenever my back was turned (or sometimes right in front of me) or my focus on helping individuals, there was always more than a few who took advantage of me, their agreement, and the technology to do as they pleased.
Many have written that we shouldn’t take the technology away; that we wouldn’t take a pencil away if they were misused it. I guess I disagree- if the pencil became a constant distraction, a danger, if it were constantly abused, I hope that we would take it away and look for other more successful options.
I still think that BYOD classrooms can work, once equity can be guaranteed. I still see many aspects of the learning process that digital technology can enhance. As I said, I have failed, not the program.
Many have been writing recently about how failure is necessary to learn. I haven’t figured that part out in this situation yet….any suggestions?