Sunday, October 30, 2011


BYOD - Bring Your Own Device

Imagine a classroom with a wide array of laptops, mobile devices and handheld games consoles all at the fingertips of the learners to use during class time. What would be your immediate reaction to this scene? Honestly?
There has been quite a bit of discussion about this very idea among not just educators but those in industry too and there are those who champion it and those that vehemently oppose it. Yet the concept of 'Bring Your Own Device' (BYOD) really isn't all that new. For as long as there have been tools that could be used in the classroom for learning, learners have attempted to bring their own similar and at times comparatively better tools with them only to see them at first being confiscated, then banned, then allowed with parental consent and finally accepted as the norm.  From pens to rulers, pencil cases to calculators schools have taken objection to students bringing their own tools into classrooms usually due to poorly conceived arguments - who will be responsible? (the students will if the school has parents sign a letter of responsibility) some children have, some don't? (look at ways to provide those that don't, think can not can't) theft? (that will always happen, look at ways to safeguard against it). With time and commonsense schools have 'relented' allowing learners to bring their own tools into classroom but now learners are faced with a new, more technologically advanced challenge. At home many of them use laptops, netbooks and netbooks for their learning. These devices, in many circumstances, are more up to date and more powerful than the clunky, slow, under performing devices in their schools yet when the learners are at school the same devices are left at home. Schools cannot update their ever ageing equipment as fast as they would like due to cost and rapidly disappearing budgets yet they could have the potential of accessing more advanced tools if they would see some common sense and the vision to make it happen.
What do you think? Do you consider BYOD a way forward for schools?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Is fun disappearing from learning?

Image courtesy of Penywise

I've spent 20 years of my life in educational establishments as a learner and I'm currently on my 14th year as a teacher in them. During my learner years the most vivid learning experiences I recall centred around individual and group projects, themes, and fun. As a teacher in these establishments I can safely say my best teaching has occurred when I have not followed a curriculum, nor taught to achieve end of year targets but solely because the teaching was centred around the needs of the learners, project based and fun.
The word fun is quite important in my life as a learner and teacher. It has helped me and those around me to make sense of the world we live in, to understand the questions posed of us, to enrich our learning and teaching experiences. Learning does not require rigour as one politician would have us believe. Nor does it need pointless constant testing that only satisfy analysts and their league tables. Assessment is vitally important for the right reasons but somehow, education has fallen victim to a data driven standardisation of learning which uses assessment to victimise and blame. It is also being used to push forward a change in education that could, quite frankly, push learning back to an age of rigorous learning by rote.
Does fun still exist in learning and teaching today? Of course it does and quite rightly so. We must continue to keep fun in our teaching, to keep fun as part of the learning experience. We must never let the mindsets of the few in power think they can remove fun by insisting on rigour. We must remember why we became teachers and continue to breath life into our classrooms through engaging, inspiring and fun filled learning experiences.

For if the fun was ever removed, learning and teaching would become nothing more than a monotony.

N.B. Fun will never disappear from my classroom. Learning is too exciting to ever let that happen.