Sunday, September 8, 2013

Research reports

The idea of Bring Your Own Device (or Technology, depending on who you talk to) in K-12 schools is a fascinating one to me. Mainly because it seems so intuitive and yet innovative. I spent my four years of high school being told to never bring my computer to school and to then saw experienced an almost complete turn around in college. Not encouraging kids to use their own technology in school now seems like more than a waste: it seems irresponsible. I found out on Friday that the school I'm doing my field experience at this year is switching to BYOD in the spring, so I thought that looking into it more would be a good idea, just so I could acquaint myself more with both sides of the issue and what type of information was out there about BYOD.

Melissa Greenwood’s piece “Survey offers snapshot of BYOD in K-20” points out the disparity between BYOD usage in postsecondary and secondary education (95% and 48%, respectively), begging the concern that secondary schools are not preparing students for the use of technology in the classroom that will be required in college. This is especially disconcerting considering that 87% of parents believe that effective implementation of technology is important to their child’s success, according to the infographic from Joshua Bolkan’s article “Report: Schools not Meeting Students’ Technology Needs” further highlights the issue that students in the United States use less technology in schools than their peers in China. There is no longer any argument that technology will not be an important part of whatever paths todays students take and how they interact with the world around them. If technology is so important, why aren’t we more effectively making it a part of the classroom, especially when students have so much access to technology everyday.

The answer, of course, complex. To me, the most compelling argument against BYOD is the issue of technology inequality. The infographic shows that this is a concern for 43% of principals surveyed 84% of teacher and that for teachers of low income students there is less access to resources and training for technology in the classroom. Perhaps, though BYOD can help to close these gaps. If students are regularly bringing their own devices to school, this could allow school divisions to spend more money on resources for those students who cannot bring technology to school, rather than making sure that all students have the exact same device provided by the school. The Dell survey cited by Bolkan claims that 71% of students have better access to technology at home than at school, meaning that the schools have room to focus their efforts on providing technology for those students who do not have access to technology at home. Of course, these other students are not evenly spread about the country, but rather focused in low-income areas. The issue of getting technology to students in low-income schools is a much larger issue, but perhaps BYOD could alleviate some of the financial burdens of incorporating technology.

All three of these reports are highlighting the fact that technology in schools is a changing issue in schools that many people see as extremely important. They all seem in favor of incorporating technology into the classroom, assuming that it is an important part of any education. They all concern themselves with how much access students have to technology, but do little to delve into the quality of interaction students have with technology, something equally as important.

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