BY NICOLE GIOVINCO
SC Staff Writer
“It is amazing how technologically savvy the students are,” seventh grade English teacher at Nazareth Area Middle School (NAMS), Brenda Hageman, said that it’s one of the positive aspects of a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) system.
BYOD is the concept that students may bring in their own devices, such as a laptop or tablet, to school for educational purposes. Since school funding has decreased, some have said there should not be a stop to the progression of teaching styles and attempts to engage children as students.
The types of technological devices that students are able to bring to class range from a mobile phone, laptop computer or a tablet computer such as the Kindle or iPad. Hageman recently discussed several positive attributes to BYOD for the students and teachers.
Although Hageman’s Nazareth school district does not require or ban the use of BYOD, it is at the teacher’s discretion if technology tools are allowed in the classroom. Mrs. Hageman added that she has not had any problems so far. “I feel that BYOD has helped my students learn how to use their technology in my classroom in a more positive educational way than the normal texting, Facebook and Twitter offer.”
When Mrs. Hageman discussed in what ways BYOD benefitted her students, she had several points to make. “Allowing students to use their own tablets and devices shows them how those technologies not only benefit them socially, but educationally as well.”
Hageman has utilized BYOD in her own classroom in several ways, such as using Quick Response (QR) Codes to display how the codes are used in advertising as a way to gain information about a product or company. Hageman also allows them to use their devices for research projects, “in which they must identify a social or environmental issue, its negative effects, and potential solutions to that problem,” says Hageman.
Nazareth Area Middle School is a green school. You may be asking yourself, what exactly does that mean? According to Mrs. Hageman, “That means that we have taken action to reduce the amount of paper items we distribute to the students, in addition to having solar panels on the roof that supply 60-80% of our energy needs.”
“That is not all!” she says. “Our school has been nominated as one of four Pennsylvania schools to possibly receive the National Green Award from the U.S. Department of Education.”
However, Mrs. Hageman does feel there are still some issues that need to be addressed and assessed for a solution. However, these specific issues that Hageman discusses are not directed towards the students.
“I would say the number one drawback to BYOD is giving teachers enough time to be trained to learn how to operate the various forms of technology and feel comfortable using them in class. Often, the issue isn’t so much that teachers don’t want to use the technology, it is that they are unsure how to navigate the tools successfully.”
In an article that examines the growing trend of BYOD in education titled Tech-savvy teaching: BYOD, Nicky Hockley examines some of the arguments against BYOD. The first area of concern revolves around creating a “have’s” and “have-not’s” within the student body since not every student is accessible to a laptop, tablet or smartphone.
Another major concern according to Hockley’s research revolves around teachers who are not able to provide the appropriate tech-support for the wide variety of technology that the students may own. Hageman stated that it may not be an easy or fast process, but over time it could amount to something great for everyone involved.
For Brenda Hageman, there is nothing better than to see her students’ interests increase because they are able to incorporate their own technology into their project. “The number one strength to BYOD would be seeing how engaged the students are in the task. I never would have realized how much they would be teaching me to operate the devices, apps, etc. until I allowed them to use their technologies within the classroom.”
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