Should we choke off the bandwidth for personal devices?

I thought I was making progress with integrating iPods into my fourth grade room (few have phones at ten yet, but the difference is negligible), but our division guest network was overwhelmed by new users. Their solution was to switch to a web-based login much like your hotel would use.

I hope to see this activated tomorrow because my personal iPad plays a pivotal role in my work flow. As I said in the thread earlier, I do have students who bring their own devices. Apart from some obvious photo restrictions, our school policy stresses classroom teacher discretion. Most teachers remain both uncomfortable about PD activity in the classroom, and I think unconvinced of its efficacy in learning. I am aware of their distract ability, but don’t share the view.

I borrowed a policy whereby use of a device must be visible at all times. If my students are going to use their iPod, it has to be on top of their desk. They are young users, relatively compliant, they network with their devices and play games. It has been a challenge to get them to see the devices as learning tools. Virtually all of them have used them appropriately. All I have to do is confiscate a device for some appropriate period. They get it.

If we don’t find a way to bring these devices into the classroom and make them work for learning, public education’s influence in learning will decline. People will gravitate to spaces where they can exploit their connections and dismiss learning spaces that limit their connections to adults, textbooks, and immediate peers. Bandwidth is a real problem for our systems. Turning down the taps to manage the flow might seem practical, but it will ultimately disadvantage many.

About Alan Stange

I am an Alumni of the University of Regina, class or 1980. After a two year posting with CUSO in Kaduna, Nigeria, I worked in South-central Saskatchewan in rural K-12 schools. I took a year of post-graduate studies and then moved into administration. I stepped out of that role in 2007 and returned to the classroom as an elementary school teacher. I am currently in Moose Jaw.
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4 Responses to Should we choke off the bandwidth for personal devices?

  1. @MisterTelfer says:

    When it comes to personal devices in the classroom, I’ve gone from one extreme to the other. I’ve had a completely closed policy (no device – I see it, it’s mine) which I didn’t like at all. I’ve also had a wide-open policy where students were allowed to bring it and use it whenever and some students took advantage of it.

    I’m hoping that I’ve found the happy medium this year. Students may bring their device, but it goes in a basket at the front of the room. If they need it (research, definitions, or just listening to music), then they can retrieve it from there.

    I’m sure that there are some loopholes that they’ll find, and that’s ok (for the most part). I want them using the devices to enhance their learning, and I think I got away from that last year. Hopefully this works, otherwise, it’s on to Plan D (and I don’t have a Plan D as of yet).

  2. Alan Stange says:

    I think you have a good plan there. At the moment, I am working through the implications of the new guest code in our building. It seems to me that once the code has been distributed to a student, it will become general knowledge. So far, the distribution policy, or frequency the code is changed, has not been shared with us.

  3. @MisterTelfer says:

    Our students log in with their network credentials and, in theory, all of their network activity is monitored. However, once they have a cell phone, that becomes impossible to manage as they use their cell data rather than the schools – it’s faster and there’s no way to monitor it (other than the old school “over-the-shoulder”.

    Hopefully with your network, they keep changing that password frequently – daily would be best.

  4. Alan Stange says:

    Ack! Daily password changes would drive me crazy. I’m on my iPad constantly.

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