Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Bridging the Digital Divide: BYOD Equity

Notes from SxSWedu 2014 Session

Title: Bridging the Digital Divide: BYOD Equity (#BYODEquity)


·         Sandy Kendall, Georgetown ISD, @EdTechSandyK

·         Jessica Herring, Benton Middle School, @JessicaRae929

·         Tim Clark, Forsyth County Schools, @BYOTNetwork

·         Michael Mills, University of Central Arkansas, @AquiAmigo

Many school districts are encouraging BYOD as a way to address the growing need for technology tools that transform learning experiences, especially for those students who do not have access to personal technology resources. This panel will discuss the implications of the digital divide and will also share specific experiences of how personal technology devices have improved educational equity through proactive district policies, engaging classroom instruction, and community resources.

The session opened with Sandy Kendall explaining the difference between Equality and Equity. Equality is where every student gets the same tool whether they need it or not. Equity is where only the students that need a device get them. The image below is a fantastic visual of the difference.

Dr. Tim Clark shared how his district moved away from an Acceptable Use Policy to Responsible Use Guidelines, which contain 5 guidelines that rely on TRUST. He stated that the Forsyth Digital Equity Task Force, composed of educators, administrators, and community stakeholders was key for gaining support. With BYOD, Tim mentioned that
teachers need to focus on asking great questions, and then have students develop products based on those questions. Rigorous instruction is needed.

Michael Mills shared that BYOD is about a change in teachers’ mentality and administrators’ mentality. He stated, “
It (BYOD) is more than devices and bandwidth, it comes down to teachers and administrators mindset and will." In addition, he mentioned that teachers need to trust their students and many teachers simply don’t.

Jessica Herring shared how she piloted BYOD in her classroom. She mentioned that Engagement Equity is needed, which includes first leveraging the novelty of BYOD and then the utility of BYOD. Establishing equitable and trusting relationships is important. Central Office Administrators and Principals alike, must trust their teachers as well. When asked about classroom management, Jessica stated,”A big part of BYOD classroom management is setting routines for students.”

Sandy Kendall mentioned that more professional development and more opportunities to learn would help teachers with BYOD.BYOD is paradigm shift: A campus support person, that can model and co-plan with teachers, is key to success. Teachers need someone on campus support them though the process. Georgetown ISD’s BYOD resources can be found at http://www.georgetownisd.org/byod. They were adapted from East Central ISD’s BYOT resources.

Overall, I was very impressed with the session and the panelists. They are truly remarkable educators and it was great to hear the perspectives on BYOD from all of them.


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