After a semester long pilot program with the senior class during the spring of 2011, we rolled out our Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program to the entire student body in September. Throughout the entire 2011-2012 school year, we worked to refine our approach, implementation, and learning outcomes for the program. The model that we developed is customized, based on our student body and overall objectives of the program.
Students are permitted to use their devices for learning during non-instructional time (i.e. lunch) or in class at the discretion of the teacher. Mobile learning devices (i.e. cell phones) have been successfully integrated as student response systems using free web 2.0 tools such as Poll Everywhere and Celly. Smartphones and Internet accessible devices have been used by students to conduct web-based research, take notes using Evernote, manage work through Google Docs or Dropbox, organize their assignments on their calendars, and develop projects with a variety of other tools. Even though our school has more than enough available technology in four computer labs and two mobile carts, some students are more comfortable working on their own devices.
One thing we quickly realized is that our students owned and brought a diversity of devices to school including smartphones, iTouches, iPads, laptops, and other tablet devices (Kindles, Nooks, Playbooks, etc.). The challenge then became how to deliver a uniform experience across all devices in order to assist with the teaching and learning process. The solution came in the form of an award winning, web-based application called ClassLink Launchpad.
With ClassLink students and teachers can access a customized dashboard that is pre-loaded with a variety of tools that are used on a regular basis. I was able to establish the specific tools added to each of the respective dashboard (teacher, student). The best part is that for both groups the dashboard appears the same no matter the device that is used to login and access it. Below is what the dashboard looks like for my teachers.
Setup was a breeze, which was managed by both representatives from ClassLink and my IT department. Student and staff information was uploaded from our information management system (PowerSchool) in a seamless fashion. Existing usernames and passwords for both teachers and students could be used to access the ClassLink Launchpad application. An added bonus for my teachers was that Classlink allowed them access for the first time to their school drive, which we call the p drive. With this feature on their dashboard they could not only access files that have been saved for years at home, but they could also work from these same files now at home and conveniently save.
We began using ClassLink late in the spring, but are extremely excited about the promise that this solution holds to enhance the teaching and learning culture of our school through BYOD. There are so many more features that my teachers and I will explore in the coming months. More training and webinars will be provided for my staff so they are comfortable using ClassLink with learning in in mind. We will also focus on making students aware of ClassLink and the dashboard that has been specifically created for them.
How do you manage your BYOD program if you have one at your school? If you don't, what are the factors holding you back?