What makes BYOD work?

Last year BISD implemented a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) or BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology) program and while we were happy that some students took advantage of the program, we were not overwhelmed by the number of participants.  Why wasn't the program a screaming success?  Why weren't student CHOMPING AT THE BIT to bring their own laptops, netbooks, tablets to school?  I think there are two big reasons.

First of all, most of our students are not carrying around bulky devices, like laptops.  Most of our students do everything they need to do with their smart phones.  Funny thing - we don't allow cell phones in our schools!  (Shocking, I know!)  So, I think the first step to success is to include cell phones as accepted devices in our BYOT program.  This is a policy issue and one I likely cannot change.

Probably the most important reason this program was not hugely successful, and the reason for this post, is not having teacher buy in.  Now this is something I CAN change!  I think most teachers would like to use this kind of technology in their classroom, but don't really know how.  I think teachers see this change as frightening and a lot of work.  Steve Hayes asks a very important question and one EVERY educator should answer:
When that time comes and every student arrives to your classroom with a mobile device, what will you do differently?
  1. Ignore them and continue to teach the same way you always have.
  2. Continue to use the same teaching strategies you have always used, but marginally use the mobile devices for tasks such as word processing.
  3. Realize that the teaching strategies, developed around a set of tools from a generation ago, are no longer viable and change your teaching strategies.
I hope most of you answered #3, although I would accept #2 for beginners.  #1, in my opinion, is NOT AN OPTION.  Things are changing and it's time to dive right in!  Upon doing some research, I have found some easy (and not so easy!) ways to embrace BYOT in your classroom with little effort or deviation from your normal routine.  I really think anyone can gain their students' respect and engage their class with these simple ideas...

Here are the top 10 ways I found to make BYOT work for you:
  1. Use Poll Everywhere to create introductory teaser polls for your lessons.  Students can respond with a cell phone (text) or online.
  2. Let students take pictures of assignments and notes instead of printing copies or copying from the board.  (read full article here)
  3. Use QR codes in your classroom and let students scan them with their smart phones.  Need ideas? Look here!
  4. Create a class blog and let your students be the authors.  This is a great way to document the great things that are happening in your room AND include the students' own devices!
  5. GO PAPERLESS!  Create a Google group for collaboration, assessment, projects and more!
  6. Use a backchannel like Todays Meet during your lecture so students can pose questions without interrupting your lesson.
  7. Create an app for your classroom to make navigation from a smart phone easier!  Check out Conduit Mobile to see how.
  8. Develop online content as a companion to your in-person instruction.
  9. Create a classroom YouTube channel and load it up with useful instructional videos for your students.  Take it one step further and let your students create tutorial videos to share with their classmated.
  10. Feeling really daring?!  Adopt PROJECT BASED LEARNING in your classroom to truly embrace your BYOD program.  Want more information?  Check out BIE - they have it all!
How is your school promoting your BYOT program?  How are you incorporating this technology into your own classroom?