The Inspiration Behind Tech-equality
The idea for Tech-equality was born out of my research paper, Student Choice, It's Effect on Student Engagement and Grit for ELLs. What I discovered whilst writing the paper, was that without having the necessary materials - i.e. a computer, it didn't matter how much choice a student, ELL or otherwise, was given, he or she could not do the work assigned! This was seemingly so obvious, but also, something I wanted to research given that my school was in its second year being a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) school and many of the teachers, myself included, were struggling with the system. Indeed, on paper and online, BYOD looked wonderful and very simple - every student brings his device, gets to work and everything is great, but in practice, alas, this was not the case...
SOCIOLOGICAL, INFORMATIONAL, TECHNICAL & EDUCATIONAL PERSPECTIVE
SITE PERSPECTIVE of AUDIENCE/COLLEAGUES
This project has been primarily created for the teachers at H.M.S, administrators in charge of the B.Y.O.D program, school administrators and relevant people at NVUSD as well as teachers, administrators and district folk from all over the world. The big question to consider from a sociological perspective is how to change the school culture so that every student always brings his/her device fully charged and ready to use. And, how to have a system in place so that for that occasion when a student forgets or has a broken computer, may borrow one for the day without feeling bad, without disrupting class and without disrupting his/her learning. Students bringing devices is essential in making HMS a 21st century school and creating 21st century ready learners.
HMS is encouraging teachers towards teaching using devices in almost every class on a daily basis as the main source of information. Thus, it is vital for teachers that their students have access to the internet at school and are not simply staring into space while the rest of their classmates are researching and learning. It is fine sometimes for a student to be reading instead of researching, but not for weeks at a time due to a broken computer and a school that does not have a system in place to allow the student one to borrow. With information changing so rapidly, having a device at a student’s finger tips is crucial and it is important so that the teacher can actually teach the skills they are required to teach to their 21st century learners.
Technically schools must be equipped to deal with high internet activity such as whole school testing and other high volume needs, ultimately every student and teacher should be able to access the internet at all times. Schools must also be able to provide typing resources for students and lessons on how to use their computers efficiently. Teachers must also have ample training in the technical part of using technology so that they are set-up to successfully teach and demonstrate to their students what they need to learn.
A big part missing from the HMS BYOD system as it stands, is getting devices into students hands. This is despite the district giving devices to the school for annual check-out and a rent-to-own program offered by NapaLearns. One is that parents do not see the benefit of their child having a device. Another is the idea of risking the $300 charge that comes with the loan is a risk many parents do not want to take. The school needs to focus more on digital citizenship and change the culture by having teachers use it in every classroom, so that all students realize the value of bringing one.
Two other issues many schools integrating BYOD are faced with is what happens if a device gets broken. At HMS, there is not a stand-in system in place to get devices to students while they wait for them to be repaired or to get a new one. They often go weeks or months without a device. Another problem our students face is that many do not have internet access at home, therefore teachers still need to be careful when posting online HW.
(Innovative) Educational Perspective
Similarly to the Technical Perspective, teachers must be allowed and provided ample opportunity to research, practice and share innovative educational tools and lessons with each other. Many teachers did not come into the profession thinking they were going to need to know how to do everything online, but this is now a reality, so to ensure they are able to not only keep up with their students, but be at least one step ahead of them, adequate training is essential in this 21st century educational world.
Teachers must be trained in order to convey the 21st century 4 Cs, (Collaboration, Creativity, Communication, Critical Thinking), and fulfill the requirements of Common Core State Standards.