Posts Tagged research

The IKEA Effect of BYOT

Many of us have ordered furniture or other items from IKEA and spent a weekend assembling those products to be proudly displayed as our handiwork.  Earlier this year on National Public Radio, Shankar Vedantam, author of The Hidden Brain, reported a story in Research News entitled “Why You Love That IKEA Table, Even If It’s Crooked.”  The basic premise of this research is that when we labor at something that we personally create, we value it more although it may have some imperfections.

According to research by Mochon, Norton, and Ariely (2012),

Building your own stuff boosts your feelings of pride and competence, and also signals to others that you are competent.

projectThis phenomenon is known as the IKEA Effect, and it has repercussions that could extend beyond the field of business marketing.  Some outcomes may include a desire to create a product; valuing one’s handiwork; and increased competence.  On the other hand, another consequence is that when people feel incompetent, they may be more vulnerable to the IKEA Effect.  Mochon, Norton, and Ariely (2012) found that with increased self-esteem, people appear to be less interested in proving their competences to others.

As I listened to the broadcast, I reflected on the IKEA Effect’s possible implications for learning within the Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) classroom.


One of the most obvious results of BYOT is that students have the potential to produce content instead of solely consuming it.  There is no need for the teacher to lecture about information that the students can readily access on their devices, and the classroom has to become a more hands-on learning laboratory where students are empowered to discover new ways of researching content and sharing what they have learned with others.  According to the IKEA Effect, this act of creation can lead to a sense of competence.


In the BYOT classroom, students expect to contribute to the growing body of knowledge accumulated by their learning community.   These contributions may be in the form of original products that can be housed and viewed online.  Think of a repository of resources, tutorials, and projects that are uploaded and reviewed with a larger audience than just the teacher and individual student.  This sharing reinforces a sense of pride in one’s handiwork.


Because students in the BYOT classroom are creating new products for a real purpose, rather than just recalling information for the test at the end of the week, there is a sense of validity to their learning. Students are able to make new connections to what they are learning via their connectivity to their personal technology tools and each other.  They know how their devices work, and their teachers can help them brainstorm possible new uses.  Their technology tools take on new meaning as they are used to construct new experiences.


Through the act of construction, students have more ownership in their learning. This shift occurs because the students’ devices have different capabilities, and the teacher can’t force everyone to create the same product in an identical manner.  The students are also able to lend their expertise in their technology tools for the good of the learning community and provide technical support and instructional assistance.  They may choose to present what they have learned by creating a video, building in Minecraft, or designing a game.  The possibilities can be endless with the power of choice.


communityOne negative aspect of the IKEA Effect is that we sometimes can’t see the imperfections in our own work.  How do students learn how to improve the quality of their work within the BYOT classroom?  Of course the obvious answer is that the teacher facilitates these learning experiences by asking questions.  The students can also collaborate with the assistance of the teacher to develop rubrics and strategies for evaluating their products.  Because of the bond within the supportive learning community of the BYOT classroom, the students can critique their work and learn to view their products more objectively.

One difference between the practices of a BYOT classroom and assembling a product from IKEA is that there is no blueprint – no master design to follow.  The directions for success are constantly being refined by the teacher and students – the designers of the learning community.  Eventually, you will proudly display your own IKEA creation to your family and friends while ignoring those little nicks and scratches you accidentally caused during the process of assembly.  Know that the feeling of accomplishment that you achieved with your tools is a daily occurrence in the BYOT environment.


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Supporting Inquiry with BYOT


Kim Simshauser describes the 4 C’s Cafe

Learning at Liberty Middle School in Forsyth County, Georgia, begins with a focus on inquiry in its newly remodeled media center. Through a combination of school funds and the ingenuity of the instructional technology specialist, Kim Simshauser, the media center has been reimagined into a hub of digital age learning.  In fact, Kim refers to the new space as “The 4C’s Café” in reference to the skills of collaboration, creativity, communication, and critical thinking evident throughout the school.  Students are welcomed into the media center to begin learning before the start of the school day.

inquiry1School personnel and volunteer students act as baristas (much like Starbucks) and serve up hot chocolate, decaffeinated beverages, and instructional advice while students browse the book collection, use their personal technology tools for research, study individually or in groups, or watch the news being streamed over two monitors.  Kim notes that since the changes have been made that the learning environment is being used more than ever by teachers and students, and now the media center is packed with activity from morning until the end of the day.


Principal Connie Stovall explains the iTeam

The classrooms at Liberty Middle School also support inquiry through guiding questions and learning projects that are facilitated by the students’ personal technology tools.  Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) has been implemented school wide.  Students are encouraged to bring their own devices to school, or they may use the school’s technology resources to develop their digital age skills.  Principal Connie Stovall provides a scaffold for this emphasis on inquiry by working with her staff and students to develop an inquiry-based team or iTeam.  The teachers and students in this seventh grade team applied to participate as trailblazers in the school’s inquiry initiative.  They work with each other, their students, and Kim Simshauser to plan lessons that empower the learners. The iTeam students realize that they have a big responsibility to be leaders throughout the school, and their teachers were recently named Team of the Year by the Georgia Middle School Association.  In the 2013-2014 school year, the seventh grade team will loop with their students to eighth grade, and new sixth and seventh grade iTeams will be added.  The eventual goal is to implement inquiry-based teams throughout the school.

inquiry4Teachers and students at Liberty Middle School discover that inquiry can be more easily facilitated when students bring their own technology tools to school.  Guiding questions can lead to in-depth research, and students can explore new ways to show what they have learned about a topic.  These explorations surpass typical standards-based performance tasks and content.  They become authentic representations of real-world problems in context.  One goal of inquiry is to lead to more questions that become even more relevant to students as they become interested and passionate about a subject.

Here are some additional links and resources related to inquiry-based learning:

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Connected to Learning with BYOT

When students use their own technology tools within a Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) classroom, they can construct new connections that lead to new opportunities for learning.  However, many teachers are afraid of what can happen when students make these connections, but these fears are often unfounded when students explore new ways to learn with their own technology at school.  In this post, I describe some different ways that students can connect at school and some possible resources for making those connections, and I included Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube even though those sites may not be appropriate for all ages and are blocked within many school settings.

Students Connecting to Each Other

Students can connect with each other via their technology devices, and according to a recent study, approximately 63% of teens say they communicate with text messages with others in their lives (Lenhart, 2012).  Yet, when many students enter their schools, their handheld devices are banned, and communication with their peers are limited in order to listen to lectures and direct instruction in preparation for standardized tests.  In the BYOT classroom, however, students can learn and practice new ways to connect with each other through the use of social media when they are involved in collaborative activities with their devices. Participating in group assignments such as developing a class wiki or creating a photo journal can encourage students to share their ideas and demonstrate their learning.  Here are some additional resources for helping students connect with each other.

Students Connecting to Teachers

The bond that teachers can create with the students in their classrooms can help to develop the expectations and community necessary for a successful BYOT initiative.  These connections can be motivating to students and help them become persistent learners.  In the BYOT classroom, students can develop connections with their teachers as they work alongside each other to utilize technology in the discovery of new concepts and strategies. The traditional role of the teacher as the expert of content knowledge who disseminates that understanding to students through lectures is is often turned upside down in the digital age when as a community of learners, teachers and students build new meanings together.  Students can connect with their teachers through the following collaborative tools that allow them to discuss topics they are learning in class and send messages to each other.

Students Connecting to Content

Many of the concepts that students learn in school are unfamiliar and abstract.  By using their own technology devices that they have personalized with their favorite apps and shortcuts, students in the BYOT classroom are able to make greater connections to the content that they are learning.  They are also able to locate the information they need just in time to understand these new concepts. Digital Age learners expect to be find ready information as needed to answer their questions, and that information needs to be engaging, visual, and interactive to achieve maximum impact on students.   Students can connect with content to demonstrate what they know and with their technology tools they have the capability to emphasize their unique areas of strength and particular talents.  These resources can help students connect to content at home and school.


Lenhart, A. (2012, March 19). Teens, smartphones, & texting. Retrieved from

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