This picture was taken at ISTE (with parents consent and with a story). I want professional development for a BYOT classroom to look like this. Purposeful and inquisitive play. The little girl was sitting in front of me during the dinner. For the majority of the time she entertained herself on her parents’ iPhone. At one point she could not get it to recognize her swipe, instead of giving up, she wiped her fingers on her father’s pants and tried again successfully.
The story that went with the picture: she has been playing with their iPhone since she was 18 months old. She was not taught how to use it. At one and a half she figured it out. Her parents say if you watch her long enough you see her go into programs that she can’t figure out (or they are boring) so she switches app. This is a skill that adults and students need, the discernment to stop being unsuccessful and try something else. Another lesson from the picture – if someone so young can figure it out, the tool does not need to be taught.
Professional development for BYOT needs to focus on best practices for teaching. Yes there should be hints about how to raise the H.E.A.T. framework of a lesson, but it can’t be forced. True change will happen when teachers and students see their phones and other devices as learning tools and teach themselves tricks for using. The professional development philosophy covers all technology related trainings, but is especially practical for BYOT when the devices will be different, so it is impossible to provide device training for all contingencies.
We need to provide the students with the opportunity to develop the skills they need to use their devices. Sometimes the opportunity looks like desperation because they don’t have other options. We need to stop piloting BYOT and jump. When students and teachers are immersed in a BYOT environment they will learn more quickly than when they could revert back to school laptops. Research shows that people who are immersed in another language learn that language faster than classroom lessons. Which makes sense because their survival depends on it. Using personal devices is a form of communication, so the same immersion principle should apply.
Stop training for the devices. Encourage and support exploration and great teaching.