The following is a guest post by Sherry Spier, a K-12 Media Specialist Coordinator in the Cinnaminson School District (NJ). In this post Sherry reflects on here recent visit to New Milford High School, which took place on January 11, 2013.
For the last year, myself and four other members of the Cinnaminson School District staff worked relentlessly to start a pilot Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) program at Cinnaminson High School. We worked together to create an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) and a FAQ sheet for students and parents. We researched how other school districts began their program. We asked for volunteers. I thought we took all the necessary steps to pilot this program. After meeting with Eric Sheninger and touring New Milford High School, I now recognize that we share similar goals for a successful technology program, but our steps have not overlapped to make the same progress.
Image credit: http://info.netcenter.net/Blog/bid/230893/Small-Technology-Big-Risks-Top-5-Mobility-FAQs
The technology committee took all of the necessary steps, but maybe not the correct path in implementing our BYOT program. Our first steps should have involved our key stakeholders, the students. We did not ask them key questions which should have driven our implementation. We should have asked them what devices do they currently have and what are they using their devices for? What can they show the teachers and administrators that we don’t already know? What do students need to be able to do when they graduate that they can not currently doing that involves technology? All of these questions (and more) should have been our first steps in the path to developing a BYOT pilot program.
As we forged our way ahead, the technology committee should have made a greater effort in enlightening the educators and administrators who are stakeholders in this process. By not providing adequate support, in-service training, brainstorming, or sometimes an ear just to listen, we may have missed key components necessary for our goals to be met. Most importantly, a level of trust amongst all stakeholders through proven accomplishments will move the pace of the program ahead by leaps and bounds.
The most important lesson I learned while meeting with Mr. Sheninger that will help guide us back on the right track is that I need to be the catalyst for change. My schedule allows me the freedom to pop into classrooms and assist teachers as needed. I need to model what I know about technology and share that with administration and my peers. I need to build enthusiasm for this program.
Maybe the path we took to get where we currently are in our pilot is not the same path NMHS took to get where they currently are, but you can not change history. Now is the time to retrace our path, make the necessary changes to continue to journey ahead, and move together to make Cinnaminson’s BYOT program a growing success.