An Evolving Model for Teaching and Learning with Technology
Technology has changed how teachers teach and how students learn - in Mamaroneck, it has been a key component of the student experience for years. Since 2011, our secondary students have utilized district-owned iPads in their classes and at home, while elementary and middle school students have been working in school with carts of Chromebooks. A tremendous investment in infrastructure has made possible the integration of these powerful (and numerous) devices. Instructional areas in our buildings now offer internet access to users of both district-owned and personal devices through our secure high speed wifi.
Alongside the investments in infrastructure, our faculty and administrators have worked hard to transition towards complete integration and usage of G Suite for Education tools on all of these devices - including Chromebooks, iPads and other tablets, Mac and PC laptops and desktops, and smartphones. As of March, 2017, 100% of teachers and students in grades 4-12 are using the Google Suite of tools for teaching and learning, including extensive use of Google Classroom as a “mission control” for each class as well as a variety of productivity and creativity tools.
The construction of a robust network, the widespread availability of computing devices, and the use of web-based tools has freed us from reliance on specific hardware and software, and laid the groundwork for a move towards cloud computing and ultimately a “BYOD” or or "bring your own device" model," a rapidly expanding model for student use of technology in schools.
In addition to researching the ins and outs of such a transition, and reaching out to other local BYOD districts (including the Harrison Central School District) to learn about their experiences, we have also experimented with this model during the 2016-2017 school year. In response to numerous requests by students, we allowed 12th graders to opt-out of the 1:1 iPad program and utilize their own personal devices. We saw approximately 50% of the senior class opt to use their own devices instead of district devices, and direct observation would suggest that this practice is even more widespread than that. Explanations as to why they made this decision largely focus around a preference for the comfort, familiarity, freedom, and features of their own devices. Based on what we have seen in the 12th grade, we are confident students in other grades will embrace the BYOD model as well.
Benefits of a BYOD model include:
- With a device in the hands of every student, there is the opportunity for teachers to continue to develop deeply personalized and differentiated learning activities, continuing our district’s commitment to 1:1.
- Teaching and learning can easily take place beyond the school buildings. Students and teachers can communicate and collaborate 24/7/365.
- Students have the freedom to choose a device that suits their needs and learning style. They have control over their devices and are comfortable using them, allowing for a more significant focus on learning experiences.
- Studies have shown that students are more likely to take care of, remember to bring, and remember to charge their own personal devices than if they were to use a district-owned device.
- Students’ personal mobile devices tend to be more modern and up-to-date, allowing for a better computing experience.
- BYOD is the most cost-effective way of getting technology in the hands of students, freeing up district-funds for professional development and teacher training in effective uses of the technology.
- This model provides the opportunity for increased exploration of respectful/appropriate internet use, which is critical in properly preparing them for the future.
- Students will be more engaged in their learning, and be more likely to remain organized with all their notes and assignments all in one place.
Evolving our model of technology integration to include a bring-your-own-device option will support our goals of transforming teaching and learning throughout the district. Every student will be armed with the necessary skills, and have access to the appropriate resources needed to meet their potential and to prepare for endeavors beyond Mamaroneck.
Students in 6th and 7th grade during the 2017-2018 school year will continue the current technology plan. These students will not be expected to bring devices to school, rather they will utilize classroom carts of Chromebooks in many of their classes. We are hoping to extend the BYOD program to these grade levels in the future.