Learning with Technology: Students Bring iPods, iPads Into the Classroom
In a special pilot program, students are using their own technology to learn. No texting allowed.
Nine Cinnaminson High School teachers are allowing the use of iPods, iPads and laptops in their classes as part of a pilot program to integrate students’ personal technology into curriculum.
It’s called Bring Your Own Technology, or BYOT, and Kathleen Hennelly, department supervisor for business, technology, art and music in the district, joins four other staff members to head up the program.
The concept is simple: to allow students the use of their own smartphones, laptops or tablets for interactive lessons in the classroom. However, the execution and rules aren’t quite as simple: the BYOT group will use the 2012-2013 school year as a pilot to see how it works.
“We’re using technology in transformative ways,” Hennelly said. “It will really take us up a notch in student engagement and learning.”
Last year, board of education members were interested in researching e-readers and how they can be used for learning at the high school. Teachers were also looking for a way to use technology. Superintendent Salvatore Illuzzi asked Hennelly and others to “coordinate initiatives in the district to integrate technology,” Hennelly said.
Surveys were distributed to students and teachers. In November 2011, 683 students took the technology survey. It was found that 99 percent of students own a computer at home, 66 percent own a laptop or tablet, 59 percent own a smartphone, 93 percent use the Internet on a daily basis and 94 percent own an iPod or other digital music player.
Out of 67 teacher responses, 85 percent own a laptop or tablet, 54 percent have a smartphone, 42 percent are confident on their own as a technology user and 34 percent classify themselves as able to teach others how to use technology.
“That’s a pretty hefty chunk who is comfortable with this,” Hennelly said.
Nine teachers volunteered to use BYOT in their classes, which are in all different subjects. More than 200 students are participating and all signed a technology use form outlining the rules.
If there are students in the classroom without their own technology—and Hennelly said it’s maybe one or two here and there—group work is encouraged or devices are distributed, if available.
Hennelly said the staff is working very actively on grant writing for technology such as tablets or laptops.
Examples of BYOT work include video chatting with authors of assigned summer reading; one social studies teacher is doing that.
Another teacher is using an education application where students can interact and comment on classroom discussions.
Last year, one teacher recorded his classroom lectures and put those podcasts on a website for students to access.
“We don’t want to hold anybody back from some great ideas,” Hennelly said.
Hennelly said the students and the teachers would be surveyed frequently throughout the year on how the program is working.
“The intent is to find out how it’s going and also identify what the problems are,” she said.
The other staff heading up the program is Sherry Spier, K-12 media specialist; Ed Palmer, science supervisor, Frank Monteleone, network administrator; and Jason Meile, social studies teacher.
So far, Hennelly said, the feedback has been positive. Talking to some students in the BYOT classes, Hennelly said they are “excited.”
“They are thrilled they can bring the way they operate outside school into school,” she said. “They are 21st century leaders.”
The long-term goal, Hennelly said, is to see how far it can be expanded in the district.
“It’s really a cultural shift in how schools engage students in their own learning,” Hennelly said. “We’re trying to use these incredible resources we have to channel the students. We’re really excited about moving forward and allowing teachers and kids to come up with great ideas.”