The United States of America is a country in which every child, female and male, between the ages of 5-18 years-old is given the opportunity to a free, public education. As such, there are certain requirements made of public schools by state governments in order to ensure students are getting their educational needs met and students are being prepared to go out into the world after school and perform jobs that contribute to the economy and society.
With that in mind, given that we are now living in a world where technology, inquiry, collaboration and creativity rule, these things must be integrated into the classroom. A fundamental requirement in making this possible is that every student have access to their own device.
Keywords: BYOD, 1:1, Devices, Technology, Tech-equality, Equality learning, Williams Case
Research Behind Tech-equality and why I chose to study it...
My research began with me looking at how to engage my ELA students and how to encourage them to have grit. Click on the title for a link to my original paper, Student Choice: Its Effect on Student Engagement and Grit for ELLs. However, it soon became evident that none of this mattered if they didn't have the tools they needed to succeed, which in this case was a working device. Click on the slide below for a concise slide presentation of my findings.
Background and Need, Rationale
Harvest Middle School, Napa opened in 2002 on an old school site. The site was re-opened having closed in the 1970s, due to the increasing demand for schools in Napa County. In 2014 it began the process of becoming an International Baccalaureate (I.B) World School which in 2016 became a reality. Part of being an I.B. school as well as fulfilling 21st century requirements caused the school to want to become a one-to-one device school.
In the 2014-2015 school year, the school launched a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program - in which students were required to Bring (their) Own Device each day to school and teachers were required to teach as often as possible using devices. To support this new system, each classroom was given a computer cart containing 20 computers. This meant that assuming approximately 10-14 students brought their device, everyone in class would have one.
In order to help families procure a device, NapaLearns, a local non-profit agency teamed up with the school and ran a program in which families could cheapily purchase or rent a device, and the school gave devices on loan to students to families receiving school lunches. However, unfortunately there were a few problems with this new system which was implemented very loosely and with very few guidelines for teachers. Some teachers had sign-out/sign-in sheets for the devices, others did not and devices were lost. Some teachers were strict about sign-in/sign-out, some were not. Some teachers left their carts open even when guest teachers were on campus, others did not.
By the end of the school year, several of the school devices had been damaged, broken or lost, and knowing that devices were pretty much always available to borrow from the computer cart in the classroom, less and less students bothered to bring their own device as they were cumbersome to carry.
Despite each classroom having 20 classroom computers, students regularly had to share and to prevent that, there was a lot of borrowing from other classrooms and frustrated teachers yelling at students to bring their devices, so they could teach their curriculum.
In the 2015-2016 school year, the school started the year with a new system. The new system was a 100% B.Y.O.D program and each classroom had just three devices. The thinking was that if students knew they could not just borrow devices any time they liked, they would be more inclined to bring their own. Like the previous year, the school worked closely with NapaLearns to create an affordable system for students whose families could afford it and gave free computers on loan for the year for those families who could not. But, things did not go according to plan, and again, by the second part of the year there were often 10+ students without devices, frustrated teachers and the system was broken, hence my decision to look at the details of how to make BYOD a successful program.
Challenges of BYOD
In order to fulfill the mandate of the Williams Case which requires that every child is given the tools they need to succeed, HMS needs to come up with a system where students want to bring their devices, and when they are broken or forgotten, students may borrow one.
1. Broken - if parents purchased insurance, then insurance pays for the repair
- if no insurance, currently parents must pay the school $350 fee, or pay for device to be fixed privately - this was challenging for many families and resulted in many children not having devices
- there must be a system in place for students to be able to borrow a device while theirs is being fixed. Last year, students had the option of borrowing one of the three classroom devices. This lead to students running around school and going to other classrooms to borrow devices which ate into precious class time, disturbed other teachers, caused difficulties with campus security, and more often than not the students came back empty handed.
2. Uncharged / Forgotten - there must be a system in place for students who forget their computers or their charger to charge them. Having three spares in a classroom is inadequate.
3. No Device Purchased - there were a handful of families, who despite being spoken to during the school year, simply did not purchase or organize a device for their student.
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