Our school, St. Gregory, is in its second year as a 1:1 laptop school, and it has been a very important and valuable advance for our students’ ability to research, to stay connected, to organize their calendars and school works, to communicate with teachers and peers, to publish some of their student work, to blog, to use digital video both as consumers and creators of knowledge, and much more.
We took what I believe, two years ago, was a somewhat unusual approach to becoming a 1:1 school, but one which I think will become increasingly common, so much so that perhaps in a few years it will be the new normal. We knew that many of our students already had laptops they were using, at home and sometimes at school, and we decided to to build upon that foundation, structuring our program which invites students to bring their own device (BYOD), and supplementing it with a school-provided netbook to those who chose not to (or were unable to) provide their own. I think this was the right bridge, but we may move to a format soon where all students are expected to provide their own, and we give a stipend of some sort to support those who need it.
We did this hybrid BYOD approach partly for the financial savings, partly because it seemed redundant to ask so many students who have their own already to buy a school device, but also because we saw a new format emerging, using the resources of the could in a OS neutral way to tap in the rich resources of the web and empower our students as creative and critical, digitally fluent, web users. This was not about using educational software pre-installed on the school-provided laptops; it was about supporting and expecting them to be networked Web 2.0 users.
I should make clear that the strongest influence on my thinking about this BYOD approach as we developed it 18 months ago was the work and writing of Peter Gow at Beaver Country Day. (See related post, with a long quote from Peter, here). (more…)