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TIES TLC 2012: Tim Wilson "Bring 'Em If You Got 'Em: Increasing Technology Access with Student Owned Devices

Tim Wilson, Chief Technical Officer for the Osseo, MN Public Schools has been a pioneer in the implementation of Bring Your Own Devices. The Project Copernicus program began in 2008
He used the site "" as a "student response" site
Bring Your Own Device has blown up in the last year. 
Headlines touting, "Consumer tech invades the enterprise" are now the norm.
People noted that the "illusion of control" has been lost! Wilson said that he starts conversations asking people to recognize that the devices are there whether they like it or not.
He showed a clip from Lord of the Rings with Theoden in Helm's Deep as the Tech Director and the devices are invading! "You know that the Orcs are going to get in! There is NO WAY to stop it!" You're crazy to try!
Wilson thinks it's fantastic, as this has the potential to positively impact classroom instruction. Here in this middle phase, there are some growing pains.

QuestionPress allows you to toggle question answer display on and off, and the questions show up on the display. It also allows you to re-run questions and it includes that as a separate question in the list. Wilson used this to get info about the policies that districts represented in the room. The response also delivered the questions and responses out to the devices as well. 57% of respondents said phones are ok before and after school, at lunch, etc. and 30% said phones are allowed everywhere including classrooms.
The latest survey says that 60%+ now have data plans. We noted that several districts have seen changes in their policy in the last year.
In the room, 45% allow BYOD, but 37% say it's coming soon. 41% of districts said that they have 81-100% coverage in buildings.
The environment most technical folks like things is everything in lock-step. That is not today's reality. We have no business managing them, as they are not ours!
It is totally understandable that we need to protect the district network, but we need to be planning, and not put our heads in the sand.
Roses and Thorns

Others noted:

What excites you about the potential of student-owned devices in the classroom?

  • Our group noted that it's a learning tool for students not an instructional tool for teachers. 
    Most students know how to use the tool, so the focus is about the learning.
  • Instant access to information...the potential of learning going beyond the classroom.
  • Student engagement
  • Less dependence on district resources.
  • Shrinking budgets ...this allows new tech in the classroom.
  • Less financial burden
  • Because it's not necessarily 1:1, students collaborate.
  • Engaging students
  • Off set our technology costs and students have ownership
  • Student response systems and group collaboration
  • More tech access will mean more engagement for students. More sustainable.
  • Faster access to info that they can get anywhere
  • Instant feedback
  • Stimulate learning by making it more interactive.
  • Increases engagement collaboration. Also lends to project based learning
  • Students get to use the technology they are familiar with.
  • Assessment tool, individualized learning, cost,
  • Access
  • Digital Equity Ability to do more with technology in the classroom. Motivate students
  • Access to online resources and more personal experience.
  • The sky is the limit
  • Reverse classroom
  • Draws a line in the sand as to what we support and the level we support it.
  • Freedom to allow students to be in the driver seat of their learning. Also frees teachers from having to know everything. They can be coaches.
Wilson noted that we are already asking kids to bring calculators that run above $100. We are not that far away from affordability for most students. Then we can supplement for those that can't. Blended learning and Flipped classroom trends are also ones that technical staff need to be aware of, so that they are able to support it.
He then asked the group,
What concerns you about the use of student-owned devices in the classroom?
  • Support
  • Who fixes student devices?
  • Support - we say we won't support personal devices, but...
  • Wireless capacity
  • Network security
  • Teachers will not be able to troubleshoot
  • Ease of misusing the devices for noneducational purposes.
  • The wifi not handling the load.
  • Inappropriate content
  • Professional development!
  • wireless bandwidth and staying on task as well as controlling content.
  • Teachers are concerned about supporting and helping different devices.
  • compatibility, access to bypass filter via cell service toggling, nuisance issues: is it easier to not be on task?
  • Keeping the line drawn on support. Is it district resposibility to support student owned devices if they need them for learning and application in the classroom...
  • Network security/threat management. Teachers also may be overwhelmed with variety of devices.
  • Equality among students and Intrusion Protection
  • Staying on task.
  • School network can't handle it.
  • No content filter on 3g 4g device
  • Non-verbal students become even more non-verbal. Need to stress verbal communication skills. Will public speaking become a lost art?
  • Management/support ???
  • Classroom management, Professional development for teachers, access for all students, infrastructure
  • Do we have a wireless the new standards coming out next year 802.11AC
  • Cheating, chatting, support for so many devices and apps
  • Loss of classroom control
  • Tech support - staffing - teachers doing tech support vs providing instruction - staff development
  • Financial inequality making BYOD not accessible/feasible for those without these devices.
  • Having support to help put out the little fires that can get in the way and kill a lesson plan.
  • What happens when the student device fails in class?
  • Inappropriate use, broken, bandwidth
  • Students bypassing CIPA-compliant filters with their own data plan.
  • Distraction, security
  • Teachers not understanding how to work with a variety of devices instead of a class set of 1 type
  • Teacher concerned about having to support and know all technology. Student possible cheating on tests.
  • Filter bypassing via 3/4G
  • That teachers will design student technology use in the lesson to the lowest level of tech that any given student has
  • Transitioning to student devices with current infrastructure. Where do we draw the line for support?
  • Equal access - haves and have nots and battery power - access to power outlets
  • Distractions
  • Distraction. Not all students having a data plan for question press
  • Inappropriate use At home broadband
  • Equity
  • Exposure to unfiltered data viruses
  • Liability and exposure to viruses
  • Who will teachers call for support since devices won't be owned by the district
  • The universal service application to deliver content.
  • Some teacher afraid of no longer being the CONTENT expert. Dude, someone wants to move my cheese!!!
  • The threat of non-standardization.
  • Not being on the same platform having the same applications
  • Getting teachers to focus on content not devices
  • Control
  • Resistent staff
  • Wireless coverage/costs.

Osseo's Project Copernicus program, named to signify that "students are at the center" of the work, is in it's 3rd year. Wilson noted that giving the project a name is helpful for marketing/branding. They started slowly and gradually, much like we have in Edina. He worked with building principals, looking at "roses and thorns" and 3 of the 25 were interested, w/ 8 teachers total. At the time, phones were banned in those schools, so they had to make a "Project Copernicus Bubble." The kids got it! Most concerns that people had did not bear out. The second year, they asked staff to think about "What activities do you currently do in the fall that you could do better/easier by harnessing student devices?"
Through the second year, they moved "classroom by classroom." The program has grown organically and deliberately. As of now, he really doesn't know how many teachers are involved, it's just part of what we do. Now an entire school, Osseo High School is a "Project Copernicus" school. The default is that kids can bring their devices. "It's not our project anymore!"
They do not allow printing from BYOD devices. It doesn't fit with the instructional model we're trying to accomplish! Just like in Edina, they want students creating and using their Apps for Education to turn things in electronically.
At the elementary school, a letter goes home that explains that the parents/students are responsible for all support and liability. They tell teachers, "we have 0 expectation that you will do any tech support on their device." The "Ask 3 before me" mantra is important! He doesn't ask his tech support to assist either. Our "SMART BAR" is another good way to support.
This is important, but don't let it stop you from doing it. Monitor, and then adjust. 
How do we prevent kids from doing things they are not supposed to do? 
Have teachers monitor as they are supposed to! Osseo's network is very open. Their Tech Department is not responsible for making decisions about filtering. That is an instructional decision. The teacher's job is to create instructional activities that are engaging, and they are supposed to monitor their students! Content is filtered, so he is not as concerned about students doing non-instructional activities outside of class time.
What about not blocking Facebook and allowing Cyberbullying? 
Wilson said, "Please do it on our network, because now we can do something about it!" It's hard to deal with when it is outside the school day. He noted that in the days before technology, bullying occurred, and if it happened at school, parents/students told the administration and it was happening, and then the administration dealt with it. It's almost easier to catch when it happens electronically, as opposed to anonymous notes slipped into lockers!
What about 3G and 4G devices?
How did we deal with students bringing inappropriate material to school before technology? It's the same! We rely on students to report and then we deal with it. Tomorrow's keynote may have a different view point.

BYOD technology in the classroom has allowed teachers to step out of their normal roles and look for different ways to assess students. It's definitely been a net positive! 

If I were talking to teachers, this is one of the first things I'd talk about. Osseo has seen students with limited means bring devices, and students with means choose not to. Kids seem to share their devices pretty well. In most schools, they typically see at most, 1/2 the kids bringing their device. The kids don't seem to care, and those that do, seem willing to share. Collaboration by a few kids on a single device can be a good thing! 
Wilson can make the case that with students bringing their devices, he now has more resources to spend on areas of need within the district. 

In closing, he encourages people to get up to speed so that they don't get wiped out by the tidal wave!


Tim Wilson said…
Mike, thanks for the great summary. It seems that you were paying close attention. Would it have been too much trouble to wake the people sitting around you?

I'm going to bookmark this post so I can remember what I said for the next time I give this talk!
Unknown said…
Tim, I think people were awake, the responses via Questionpress Ian's evidence of that! I thought you geared it very well toward the audience in the room. Obviously talking with teachers and honest discussion of classroom management responsibilities would induce a different set of concerns!

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