This is Day 2 of a series of posts this week to provide strategies for the first week of school in a Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) classroom. I know that the suggested activities are not the only things you are completing each day; these are just my ideas for setting the stage for an effective BYOT implementation.
Scenario: On the second day of BYOT, more students usually remember to bring their technology tools to school, and the teacher will want to provide time for those students to share out about their devices, too. At this point, I remembered that the teacher should also share out about his/her favorite technology tool! Of course, the students can always add additional information to the class wiki that was designed yesterday to collaborate in describing the ways they can learn with their devices. The teacher has already discussed the responsible use of technology tools, but it should consistently be modeled, expected, and reinforced. Students quickly grasp the technical aspects of BYOT, and then they turn to their teacher expecting something more. They want guidance in how they use their technology for learning in ways that are relevant and authentic.
My school district uses Bernajean Porter’s Grappling’s Spectrum of Technology Uses to differentiate among literacy, adapting, and transforming uses of technology. Literacy uses describe activities that are just about the technology, like learning to connect to the wifi network or sharing out about a favorite app. Adapting uses involve using tools to do the same types of assignments that students completed without technology like taking notes during a lecture. Transforming uses occur when students are constructing new learning experiences involving higher-level thinking that could not be completed without technology. This first week of school contains many literacy and adapting uses as the students learn how to work together in the BYOT classroom, but the ultimate goal is to progress to transforming uses of their devices. For a more in-depth exploration of this topic, read this post: Levels of Use in BYOT – Transforming Learning Experiences.
Activity – Engage the Students
Follow up yesterday’s activity in developing Our Responsible Use Guidelines within the class wiki by having the students work with partners or small groups to create comics that illustrate those guidelines. They can use the app Comic Touch Lite on iOS devices, or they can use software on the school’s technology or a similar app on their own Android tools. With this app, they can take a photo that represents or illustrates each guideline and write accompanying text in bubbles or captions to help tell the story of what is happening. In the BYOT classroom, always give the students the option to complete the activity in another way or to collaborate with others because of the differences among technology tools. Two of the major benefits of BYOT are that it encourages differentiation of assignments and collaborative work.
More schools continue to provide all of their students with email accounts, and this is an excellent practice to facilitate BYOT. Students under 13 can then complete projects and activities using apps on their devices and email their work to their teachers. The comics in this activity can be saved within the Photos on the iOS device and emailed to the teacher or another student. The student using the school’s technology (desktop/laptop) can then edit the wiki to insert the corresponding comics next to each guideline.
Greater opportunities exist within the BYOT classroom for students to connect with each other, their teacher, and the content. One way of reinforcing these connections is through the use of social networking. Through the collaborative work within the wiki and through discussions regarding responsible use and netiquette, the students have the beginning of an online community. This sense of community can continue to develop through the use of a social network. Facebook and Twitter are social networks that teachers can use depending on the age of the students and the expectations of the school community, to make these connections; however, they are not specifically geared to education. I advise teachers to set up their initial networks within the walled garden of Edmodo.
Edmodo is a free site for students and teachers to participate in secure social networking. When a teacher signs up for an account, they can then create a group for each of their classes. A group code is then generated by Edmodo that the teacher can give to the students in that class. When the students sign up for Edmodo, they create their own usernames and passwords and enter the group codes provided by their teachers to enter their different class groups. Edmodo also has an app for both iOS and Android mobile devices, so it is a great utility for the BYOT classroom.
In Edmodo, students and teachers can share resources and links, participate in discussions, and manage events on a class calendar. Parents can also be given partial access to see their child’s activities and encourage a home/school connection. One concern that I have for Edmodo is that like any educational tool, it could be misused to control a class (through teacher driven assignments and grading) rather than to develop a community of learners. I began this series with collaboration via a wiki in Wikispaces before proposing Edmodo just for that reason.
These online resources are very helpful in supporting a teacher’s work with Edmodo:
- Edmodo Help Center (Look at the Help Topics down the right hand side of the page).
- We asked, you answered! 15 more brilliant ways to use Edmodo
- Best Practices for Digital Citizenship (poster)
- Turn Social Networks into Learning Networks with Edmodo by Katy Schott
- How does Edmodo support PBL? by Dayna Laur
At this point, I think that the teacher should copy yesterday’s wiki page on Our Responsible Use Guidelines (if they are jointly approved by the members of the learning community in the classroom) and post them within Edmodo. The guidelines could still be modified as needed, but they can serve as a common agreement of responsible behaviors that can be shared with parents and students alike.
Homework (Post these assignments in Edmodo.)
- Develop your Edmodo profile. When you enter a social network, one engaging activity is to develop your profile. This is how members of that network can identify you. It personalizes your experience within the social network as you provide general details about yourself including a photo or avatar that represents you. Remember that you are practicing Responsible Use; that Edmodo is a closed community just for our classroom use; and that you should not include information that is too private. You can decide what information should be made public to the other members of your class in Edmodo. Think about what kind of information describes you. What photo or avatar should you use to represent yourself? Note: Devices using the Edmodo app do not allow you to edit your profile with the app; although you can see completed profiles. If you do not have a computer at home to complete this assignment, you will be provided time to complete it at school. Try to come to school tomorrow with a completed profile in Edmodo.
- Download these apps: Download these apps: Edmodo (iOS, Android), Socrative-Student, (iOS, Android). For more apps, look at this list: Apps for Mobile Devices to download. If you do not have a device, you can use the school’s technology resources, and many of our activities can also be completed with a variety of technology tools.