Thursday, July 26, 2012

10 BYOT / BYOD Back to School Basics

Windows Phone 8
Gone are the days where students sit neatly in rows all prepared with the same back to school supplies ready to consume instruction. As the 2012/13 school year approaches, one thing is clear. One-size-fits-all is out and personalization is in. This doesn’t only apply to the classroom instruction, it also applies to the mobile devices your students choose to use for learning. Today student choice = personalization. The teacher sets the learning goals, but students choose their own tools or learning.

In 2012/13 Blackberries are old school adult devices. iPhones, Androids, and Microsoft’s new Windows 8 devices are what the cool kids are using in school. Below are the BYOT / BYOD back-to-school basics that will help ensure your students' personal learning devices are geared up for the upcoming school year.  


  1. Pen & Paper - Old school pen and paper are out.  Digital notes are in. Ask your students to select a notetaking app.  This may be a simple memo tool or something more complex like Evernote.
  2. Video - 21st century educators won’t waste students’ time with video capture of lectures. Those will be uploaded by the teacher to their online space using their own videos or ones phone in apps like TED or Khan Academy, but students will want to tell their stories or create work using video capture. iMovie and MovieMaker rule the roost. You can start there but there are also many other free apps available like Videolicious, Viddy and Splice. For video
  3. Photo - Capture learning evidence with photos.  Use the camera installed on your mobile device and do more with apps like iPhoto, Photo Gallery, Picasa and Flickr.  
  4. Book - Your students don’t need to waste money on a single function device like an eReader. Make sure they have a book app as well.  Your students will want a traditional eReader such as Google Play or Kindle as well as an audio book app like Audible.  
  5. Drawing - There are many reasons your students might want to draw, but one of my favorite is to give a visual representation to capture and make meaning of ideas. See how Brad Ovenell Cartner does this here. Brad uses an app called Paper on his iPad. Fresh Paint is a popular windows app for drawing.
  6. Video calls - Ensure your students have an app to connect to their world face-to-face. Facetime (iPhone), Google Hangout,/Video (Droid), and Skype (Windows) are all good choices.
  7. Storage - You’ll want to ensure your students have selected a cloud storage tool.  My favorite is Google Drive. Dropbox, iCloud, and SkyDrive are also popular choices.
  8. Social Media - 21st century educators know the value of personal learning networks. In addition to the social media outlet teachers choose to engage in school work, you’ll want to support your students in developing their personal learning networks using platforms like Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
  9. Music - Generation text often works best with some music playing in the background.  Have some extra earbuds on hand for those who have forgotten them and let your students get to work listening to their favorite tunes using something like Pandora, Spotify, iTunes, or Zune
  10. Games - We’ve finally moved past the conversation of if games are valuable for learning to what games do your students find most valuable for learning.  Many of your student’s devices come with built in games and apps. Will they be creating worlds with Mindcraft? Honing their physics skills with Angry Birds, or using Xbox Kinect Apps for Education?
What’s important for 21st century educators to remember is that when it comes to the tools and resources, you don’t have to be the expert. Share your learning goals with students and speak to them about the tools and resources they like best to meet those goals. You’ll learn from them and they’ll learn from each other when it comes to what to use. In the meantime, your job is to help them to become lifelong learners using the tools they own, love, and need for success in the world.  


For ideas for classroom management, lesson plans, responsible use, safety, permissions forms, and much, much more check out Teaching Generation Text: Using Cell Phones to Enhance Learning.
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