Thursday, 1 May 2014

BYOD: Making it Mobile

Yesterday I attended the BYOD: Making it Mobile conference organised by Learning Network NZ. One of the many disadvantages of not having a teaching position is that you do not get the opportunity to attend professional development sessions. I do a lot of reading on the internet but, for me at least, the immediacy of face-to face learning is more powerful. This conference was on a subject I have a particular interest in and was relatively inexpensive - very important when you are self-funding!

As is always the case, choosing the sessions to attend was difficult. There were many more I would have loved to go to (the session on Student Voice in Numeracy especially) but in the end I chose the following:

  • Getting BYOD Pedagogy Right - Mark Osbourne (CORE Education) - This was a VERY popular session and, for me, the highlight of the day. Mark began by pointing out how far teaching practice had come from the one size fits all model of education and yet often the way we use technology in the classroom harks back to this era. He discussed the importance of moving to a model of personalised learning that puts the student and their needs at the centre. BYOD's great strength is the ability to connect learners and allow them to collaborate and share, rather than work in individual silos. He also emphasised that technology should be used when it is the best tool for the learning objective, not just because it is there. An example he gave was feedback. Low level feedback (yes/no, true/false) was best given by the computer. Immediacy and speed made this more useful. It also freed the teacher from this job so they could focus on higher level, quality feedback.
  • Getting Good with Google for Beginners/for Extended Beginners - Allanah King (Blended e-learning facilitator) - Although I have been using Google for years (including Google docs) I wanted to attend these sessions to see how they were being used in a classroom environment. Allanah introduced us to her website and went over some of the tools she uses to get the most out of Google. One of the most useful things I learned was the research tool inside Google docs and how it can be used to to not only find information but also to place it into your document AND create the reference for it. If only I had known about that when I was studying! Using a Google document to collaborate with parents (eg for parent help) was also a great idea. She also mentioned the importance of closing off a doc for editing if posting it on a blog to prevent unauthorised changes. For student writing, using the comment feature for feedback and discussions as well as the power of the revision history so you have a full record of the development of the document. As far as Google extensions were concerned, the coolest one was Webpage Screenshot which enabled "on the fly" editing of webpages like newspapers. You could have a lot of fun with that.
  • i Movie - Amy McCauley (Hobsonville Point) - Being a multiple device user (iPad, Windows 8 laptop, Android phone), I thought I should check out at least one iOS presentation. I have done a couple of very basic iMovies but haven't looked at it for a while. We spent the most time looking at the Trailer part of the app. This has everything a user needs to make a simple movie trailer. An editable storyboard is built in which I thought was a brilliant way to introduce making movies to kids (and adults). These would be fantastic for creating a book trailer or as a way to present learning. In a classroom though it is a good idea to have the device set to mute!
  • Google Sites/Collaborative Planning - Emma Roberts, Emma Winder & Sheena Campbell (Stonefields) - It was back to Google for the final session. I was interested to see how this school used the site to open their planning to each other, their learners and their families. The information includes a weekly timetable and term overview as well as more specific information for learners such as independent and follow-up activites.
 It was an interesting day. My main takeaway was the importance of keeping the learner/learning central to any decisions about BYOD and technology in general. A tool that is not fit for purpose will not improve outcomes, no matter how new and shiny it is.

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