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5 Things to Know About Creating a BYOD Classroom

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The BYOD classroom promotes the use of personal electronic devices to further engage students and encourage interactive exploration of course materials. Here are five tips for creating a successful BYOD environment in your own classroom.

Creating a BYOD Classroom

Technology has changed the way teachers are presenting materials in the classroom. Electronic devices are also enhancing the way students learn. Teachers are encouraging students to bring their own electronic devices into the classroom to optimize the learning experience. If you're looking to create a bring your own device (BYOD) classroom, here are five tips that will benefit you along the way.

One: Explain the BYOD Concept

When starting your BYOD classroom, make sure that you take the time to explain the concept to your students. It's important that students and parents understand that the BYOD classroom is a place where electronic devices are used as an aid to engage students and create interactive learning environments. They can also make assignments, course instructions, materials and even calendars more readily accessible. The goal of technology in the classroom is to enhance the learning environment.

Bring your own device to school.

Two: Set Boundaries

Use the initial implementation phase as a time to set boundaries for the use of electronic devices in the classroom. Students need to fully understand that a BYOD classroom is not an excuse to bring an electronic device in for personal use. The classroom is not the place for listening to music, making phone calls, sending text messages, checking personal e-mails or playing games. Instead, explain that students are only to use their electronic devices under your supervision and in accordance with the day's lecture or assignments.

Free Time for Electronic Devices

If you do allow free time for electronic device use, make it very clear when that time begins and when that time ends. For instance, some teachers allow students to listen to music via headphones from their personal devices while doing seatwork.

Computer Use Rules

In addition, if your school has a list of rules for computer use in the information technology (IT) department or computer lab, make copies of those rules and share them with your students. The use of a personal electronic device during school hours falls under the same rules.

Three: Adapt an App

When it comes to communicating with students in the classroom via electronic devices, you'll probably find that there are multiple devices and platforms being used. The best way to communicate with students across all electronic platforms is to use an app or application that can communicate easily with multiple devices no matter the manufacturer or operating system.

Examples of Apps

An example is Remind, an app designed with teachers and BYOD classrooms in mind. This app allows teachers to send resources, assignment reminders, questions, group messages and more to students inside and outside of the classroom. The application can be used to send resources and materials individually, to all students at one time or to different groups of students. For instance, if you have divided the class into four groups for a team project, then you can send each group their own set of instructions and materials.

Additional applications and creative tools shared by EdTech & Curriculum Consultant Monica Burns include eduBuncee, Drawp for School and KidBlog.

Use apps and creative tools in the classroom.

Four: Prepare for No Access

A BYOD classroom experience is a great way to enable students to use the technology they know and love as a resource for learning, but be prepared for the few students who will come to class without an electronic device. Even though the use of personal electronics continues to rise, not everyone will have access to his or her own piece of technology.

Before starting your BYOD classroom, see if students can check out a device through the school library or a partnering community library. Make sure your classroom materials and lesson plans will work if students are unable to obtain a device of their own. When first explaining the BYOD idea to your class, be sure to mention that there are options available if some students do not have access to electronic devices. Always make students feel included and part of the program even if they aren't electronically connected.

Five: Have a Back-Up Plan

Although high-tech devices are heavily relied upon on a daily basis, sometimes the technology itself isn't so reliable. With this in mind, plan ahead for those days when the school's Wi-Fi service is down or electronic devices just aren't cooperating. Make sure that all of your course materials and lesson plans can be used with or without electronic devices. Alternatively, set aside a couple of spare lesson plans for those 'just in case' days.

Prepare a backup plan.

Internet Safety

Creating a BYOD classroom is a lot of fun, especially for the students who are accustomed to using their electronic devices daily. As a teacher, it's up to you to keep that learning environment safe and secure as well. Remember to incorporate Internet safety into your course materials. This not only helps students learn to be cautious online at school, but also to be aware and safe while online outside of the classroom.

By Amanda Johnson
January 2017
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