14 Comments

  1. Laura

    My main concern would be ownership. If teachers had ownership of devices, I think it’d be considered a gift of public funds. I am also worried about all the items we would need to install on each device, such as printers, shared folders, SMART software, etc. Although I understand the thought process, I am not sure it would result in less IT work because teachers would still want support on their devices when things go awry. And with all the drama surrounding online testing admin (at least here in Cali!!) and which version of browser/flash/Java/etc is loaded, that’s a lot of custom versions to check.
    What about offering a few standardized devices to choose from? There could be a Mac, a PC, perhaps a hybrid tablet…

    • George

      I am not sure how the “gift of public funds” parts work, and I am guessing that is unique in each area. I think that one of the tradeoffs of getting your own device is that you would be expected to get serviced on your own as well. I have brought a Mac to school for years and any trouble that I have had, I have taken it upon myself to get it fixed. This might not be the norm, but I think it would need to be communicated.

      One of the things that came up, which is more unique to the US is the idea of the devices needed to prepare for tests. What bothers me about this is that testing should not drive learning, but if often does. I think your ideas that you shared might be a middle ground, but I think what is most important is that we are both asking questions and not assuming to just do what has been done. I appreciate your ideas! Thank you for sharing :)

    • In our case, we’re a 1-1 ipad school and all of our testing is done on those devices, so we don’t have to worry about prepping teacher machines for testing (teachers have iPads as well). To avoid the gifting issue, we started our BYOD program (see the comment below) where the teacher purchases the computer and the district leases is back from them. But we also offer limited choice (standard PC, Macbook Pro, or MB Air) for those who do not wish to participate in the BYOD. All of this has worked very well for us.

  2. Hello George,
    Totally on board with the personalization of devices. This is something we have discussed for years, but unfortunately, never acted upon. I would recommend some sort of anti-virus compliance policy. Aside from that, other benefits I see include development of cloud-based learning environments – promoting device agnostic workflow processes. Also, increased usage and creation of OERs. This promotes costs savings, and more importantly, models content creation and sharing for other learners. I appreciate your thoughts on this, I hope others will jump in with their thoughts.
    Happy New Year,
    Bob

  3. Great post! We asked ourselves the same questions two years ago in our laptop refresh cycle. We had started to let members of our tech team (now called innovation team) pick their own laptops as part of their “reward” for serving (they receive no pay and meetings are before school hours). In 2013 we started to offer all staff due on our replacement cycle the same choice. They could get a standard Windows PC that we manage for them, or they could get a macbook pro or air. Many chose to stick with the familiar, but more than half chose the Apple products. We’re traditionally a PC shop.

    We also introduced what we call our Teacher BYOD program (http://techcafe.cozadschools.net/2015/04/staff-byod-technology-program.html). Certified staff can purchase their own computer, and the district reimburses the cost over three years (up to a limit of $1500). In effect, we lease the computer from the teacher for them to use at work.

    Both programs are popular, and we’ve expanded the BYOD to include iPads as well. All participants understand that while we will assist, maintenance, repair, and upkeep are their responsibility.

    I can attest to the savings. We spend no more on the hardware than we ever have, but we have far fewer help-desk tickets from the option and BYOD users. They have a sense of ownership and are more willing to learn new things about using technology in education.

    About a third of our staff really don’t want anything to change and prefer to keep to the old model. We’ve managed to accommodate them and offer personalization for those who want it while actually saving money on support. It really is a win for everyone.

  4. George, your ideas make a whole lot of sense. In fact, I think school districts should take the same approach with curriculum and instruction purchases. “Has this approach worked for you and your students in the past? Where is your evidence? Wow, it looks like your students are really succeeding! I’m happy to support your professional inquiries and endeavors.” Some level of autonomy in all areas of education would be so beneficial for all learners.

    • George

      Thank you Matt…Definitely rough ideas at this point but I think with the comments it is helping to sort them out in my head. Thank you for taking the time to comment!

  5. Vince

    George,

    Great post! I think this is something I will definitely be sharing with our administrative team as we move forward with a one on one initiative. I agree it makes sense to allow staff to have personalized devices as It makes it much more likely to utilize them in the classroom.

    Vince

  6. Hey Pal,

    First, I hope you are well and happy and looking forward to ringing in the New Year. My best to both you and Paige.

    Second, this reminds me of Southwest Airlines. They tout their decision to NOT put screens in the back of their seats and instead to simply provide access to Direct TV on YOUR devices. Their argument: People are bringing their own devices on planes anyways — so why make the investment in providing “devices” for every passenger and add extra weight to their planes?

    One of the things that I think our school district has done well — mostly because we’re broke — is we HAVEN’T rushed into any 1:1 commitments. Instead, we’re going BYOD and then supplementing that by providing 10 devices per classroom.

    That to me makes the most sense. My guess is that with 10 school provided devices in my room plus the devices that my kids are already bringing on their own, I’ll be pretty darn close to 1:1 already.

    The notion that the district has to provide a device to everyone — every student, every teacher, every staffer — doesn’t make sense anymore given that SO many people have their own devices and are willing to use (or would even prefer using) those devices while at school.

    Anyway — just wanted to say hey. Hope you are well and happy.

    Rock on,
    Bill

    • George

      Hey buddy…thanks for your comment and always reaching out. I appreciate you sharing your district’s journey, even if it is out of necessity. Wishing you well for the New Year my friend!

  7. George,

    I agree with 99% of everything you mention. My new school has a Bring Your Own Mac (BYOM) program (with minimum basic requirements) and it is going very smoothly. It helps students take ownership of their devices and helps us focus on learning instead of laptop management.

    Here’s the thing, at my last school we decided to go 1:1 iPads. I had a lot of trepidation when I first heard this idea and my teachers did as well. I don’t care what device students or teachers use to enhance their learning, but there is a lot to be said when you level the playing field and everyone is pushed a little out of their comfort zone on a new device. We began to do things in new ways and re-imagine learning experiences. It wasn’t perfect but it helped many of us look for innovative ways to integrate technology into our learning experiences.

    All too often laptops become really expensive typewriters or word processors and innovation goes on the back burner because we are afraid of change. Learning a new platform can have its advantages as well, no matter what the device may be.

    Keep writing – love to read your posts!

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