Tag Archives: iPads

What is the ‘D’ in BYOD? Discrimination? Divide?…

24 Apr

Is this an iPad or just an empty bag?


BYOD or Bring Your Own Device is the workplace practice where employees bring their own personal devices to work and use them at work for work.

This is an increasingly popular workplace practice for three main reasons:

  1. It saves companies money, as the cost of the devices and for connectivity is shifted to the employee.
  2. Employees are using devices they are more comfortable and familiar with, and so are more productive.
  3. Devices and software that users bring are usually more cutting edge and up to date, again boosting productivity.
It wasn’t long after companies started implementing BYOD policies that  cash strapped schools began discussing using BYOD in educational settings. Schools, like many organizations, are facing huge expenses as the public, educators and students are insisting that technology be an essential tool in education.
Unfortunately many advocates of BYOD in education have forgetten that schools are not workplaces, and the wholesale adoption of BYOD in the classroom may leads to some very nasty consequences.
Shifting the cost of devices and connectivity onto users in a classroom means families and students have to pay. This is an equity issue. Public schools are not selective. Unlike companies they accept any and all students, and some of those families and students don’t have the resources to provide their own devices. Unless we provide technology for those students to have access to devices they’ll be left behind.
BYOD in educational settings also creates further inequity within the classroom and between schools. Some students will use the latest, up to date devices, others will have older, less functional technology, and others will be left with even older, board provided devices or none at all. We already have a huge Digital Divide in society.  BYOD policies bring that divide into the classroom and allow it to further affect student learning.
We need to decide what matters and put our education dollars where our mouths are. If we value equity in education, and believe students need to learn with and use devices, we must provide them for all students in the classroom. Allowing students to bring in their devices may be a way to enhance or add to a student’s learning in special situations, but it can never be allowed to become the norm.
A full-scale implementation of BYOD in classrooms would  significantly  disadvantage large groups of low income students and create a significant gap between schools and between students. A system with have and have not schools and classrooms with have and have not pupils isn’t good for any of us.

What’s Your Best Before Date?

17 Mar

It’s amazing how quickly things go out of date. One day you have the latest, coolest tablet and the next, you’re lining up to buy a new model 🙂

Teachers go out of date professionally, just like tech. They go though the motions, doing the same stuff they’ve been doing for years. Staying current in tech requires an ongoing commitment to upgrade hardware. Remaining “cutting edge” as a professional simply requires an open mind and a willingness to admit you don’t know and are willing to learn.

I’m not an early adopter of devices. I don’t stand in line to get the latest updated gadget and my kids complain that we have outdated stuff. It’s not worth it to pay the huge mark up needed just to get a device first, especially when I know I can get the very same thing next year at a fraction of the cost. A year ago folks were lining up to buy the shiny new iPad 2. You can have the very same, brand new iPad 2, with all the same great features, for $100 cheaper today.

Once you commit to owning cutting edge tech you have to continually upgrade to stay in front. The downside of being an early adopter is that technology is continually becoming passé. Canada’s telecommunications industry is a good example of this, as explained by Jesse Brown at Macleans.

Canada used to be a leader in telecommunications technology, but lags behind 2nd and 3rd world countries today, and is badly in need of recovery and reinvestment. We were early adopters and invested heavily in the latest hardware to knit this spacious country together. Unfortunately, that was all pre-wireless and we haven’t reinvested. When Brazil and Korea were in line to get the latest phones, Rogers and Bell were at home trying to sell the back stock of rotary dial handsets.

Rather than devices I prefer to stay ‘cutting edge’ in ideas. I like to know what’s new, what the latest thinking is, and I enjoy reading about the newest, brightest ideas. It’s cheaper than getting the hottest devices and I don’t have to sleep outside the Apple store to do it.

Not everyone feels the same way. I was recently listening to sports talk radio (ok, so it isn’t all deep thoughts!!) when a broadcaster (in television) began ranting about hashtags. He reminded me of Dana Carvey’s ‘Grumpy Old Man ‘ going one about this “new-fangled” Twitter. The kicker came when he justified his ignorance by explaining he was too old to know about Twitter and then revealed his age. He was the same age as me (ack!!).

In marked contrast to this attitude is my former colleague at NYBE Peter Skillen (@peterskillen). Peter’s been helping teachers understand how to be better at teaching for a long time, and he inspired me to think critically about teaching and education when I first started. In all the time I’ve known him, he’s been well ahead of the curve when it comes to thinking about teaching and learning, and he still is.

I’m not sure how he does this. Maybe he was so far in front at the start that he’s just stayed there, and is waiting for the rest of us to catch up? I suspect it’s because he’s incredibly open to new ideas and completely committed to finding the best methods. He seems to be free of ego, willing to share and learn, and doesn’t act like he has all the answers.

I want to remain open to what’s new and exciting and fresh. I want to remember that I don’t know everything and that I still have lots to learn. I want to be able to put aside my ego and embrace the possibilities of the future. I want to stave off professional and personal obsolescence for as long as I can. I want to keep learning.

I have no idea what’s around the corner but I can’t wait to see. Bring it on!

Is iBooks really the future of textbooks?

3 Feb

Just finished listening to the latest edupunks podcast about etextbooks and the impact of  this slick move of Apple’s into the textbook market.

Once the initial hype has faded it seems likely that this won’t be quite the revolution Apple is predicting. Some reasons:

  • iPads are closed systems and Apple wants to closely control what goes on an iPad. That’s where the real revenue is generated, through content.
  • Compatibility may be a problem. The education system is mostly populated with Windows machines and infrastructure, because that’s been the most cost effective way to go for the last 15 years.  My school board wifi doesn’t support Apple devices newer than 3G. Spec. Ed. classes are getting iPads on a trail basis, but they won’t be able to connect to the wifi.
  • The economics of K-12 textbooks may not support it. University texts are more expensive and go out of date very quickly. An elementary math text should cost about $10/year, and maybe less if it gets used for longer. Throw in the cost of iPads for all students and the savings aren’t huge.
The basic idea is promising but the execution may be questionable. This seems like an opening for a cheaper tablet to come in with an open content system just as Google Android did to the iPhone.
Kindle Fire maybe? Stay tuned.