Sunday, September 23, 2012

BYOD2 - a consumption -v- a production tool

As I am researching BYOD Device 2 as one of our R&D initiatives this year, I'm asking myself what the advantages of a second device are.  Looking at the devices that have already been registered by our teachers as a second device, it's clear that these are smaller and more portable than the device that they registered as their  first BYOD.  In some instances it could be that the first BYOD is not actually the device of choice - we did stipulate that the first device had to be a laptop - though only one teacher asked me specifically about having an iPad as her first device.  What I'm asking myself is this:  what is the primary use of the BYOD1, and what is the primary use of the BYOD2?  Are the teachers who have both using one for production and one for consumption, or are they using both for the same things, but just at different times or places?

Some of this is tied up, I think, with what we see the primary BYOD as:  is it a teaching tool or a learning tool?  Teachers are certainly using it to create content for their lessons - I see these devices hooked up to the TVs in the learning spaces every day and I can see what teachers have created as part of their lesson preparations.  I don't know how much they are using their BYOD2 as a production tool - this is something I want to find out more about.

If we consider learning, on the other hand, the device that students use has to have the ability to be used as both a consumption device and a production device.  The evidence is out there that successful learning needs to engage multiple senses and mobile devices can certainly deliver material that uses multimedia (images, sound and text).   In order to justify a BYOD Device 2, however, I think that what students are actually accessing on these devices has to be more than simply a digital version of a static book.  For example I have made a conscious move this year to read on mobile devices.  Using the Kindle Cloud Reader I can read on my laptop, iPad and recently I even forced myself to read whole books on my iPhone just to see how easy this was.  What I discovered was that simply changing from print to an electronic format didn't really make much difference to how I read the book or what I got out of it.  I still highlighted and made notes, whether this was on a printed book or on a digital one.  The real benefit was when I read a digital book that had been created specifically for mobile devices.  The book that I read was Our Choice by Al Gore.  As an ex-IBDP Geography teacher I was already interested in the content, now the content was able to "come alive" with interactive graphics and animations, documentary footage, interactive graphs and so on.  This book is one of a new generation of books that is only available on an iPad, iPhone or iTouch.  In other words this book cannot be used on a BYOD1 device.  Therefore if more and more of these books are created for students, then being able to access this content on a BYOD2 will become increasingly important.

Today I was reading through an article from EDUCAUSE about mobile teaching and mobile learning that had been posted on the R&D Diigo by another member of our BYOD Device 2 Task Force.  I was struck by the following paragraph, which to me embodies the real reason why we would consider a mobile device for learning:
To move beyond mobile teaching — to be transformative — we need to think more systematically about how to design education to facilitate learning. One simplistic way to break down instructional design is for instructors to align their learning objectives over:
  • Content delivery
  • Content learning
  • Learning assessment
Most of the examples I've been seeing, hearing, and reading about in terms of mobile learning only apply to one-third of the steps needed for students to learn, and prove they've learned, the course material. In other words, it is not enough to just give students PDFs of pages from an anatomy textbook. It's not even enough to allow them to take self-grading quizzes. We need to provide materials or applications that allow students to practice identifying parts of the body on their mobile multimedia devices before taking the high-stakes midterm or final exam.
 Perhaps what we need to do is to survey the students to find out what they are actually using their mobile devices for already.  I know my own teenage daughter uses her phone to communicate with her friends, access the internet, take photos and so on.  I don't think she often uses it as a traditional phone (to actually speak to someone).  And many of the creation apps that I've looked at recently, for example Haiku Deck, or those that allow students to actually explain their thinking as they are presenting something, such as Educreations or Explain Everything, are those that are only available on BYOD2 devices.  The idea of students themselves being able to capture this "raw" data to use in their presentations is a powerful one:
It's one thing to learn about different architectural styles in a Western Civ or Construction textbook or lecture; it's another to apply what you've learned by going out into the community and taking pictures of buildings and then identifying the architectural influences. It's one thing to hear or read about the results of sociology studies about gender bias; it's another to go out, collect primary data, and immediately show, as well as discuss, the dynamically growing study results with the recently queried participant. In both cases the activity of capturing "raw" digital material can lead to further learning or assessment activities where students might develop multimedia projects.
Most of our students already have the sort of devices that we would want them to use as BYOD2s.  If they are not using them optimally at the moment, if they are only using them to consume rather than to produce, isn't it the job of us as educators to change that, to show them different and maybe better ways to learn?

Photo Credit:  iPad with Camera by Nile Livesey, 2010 AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works

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