We no longer turn to one-trick devices, like calculators, in favor of multi-faceted technology that practically lives in our pockets, purses and bedside. Technology like our phones, tablets and even smartwatches are our saviors when we need to know how much flour to measure for our cake, how much of a deal we are getting on a purchase, or even simple things like definitions and calculations. As we adapt to our new electronic appendages, children are born with them. Instead of evolving with electronics, they know little outside of iPads and phones and it’s time to build 21st century learning skills by normalizing the use of technology into everyday learning.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

Introducing Bring Your Own Device or BYOD. Kids are on their phones and tablets the majority of the day and schools are now converting some of that time into useful learning. Whether they bring their own device, or use one at school, BYOD in education has shown to improve learning through up-to-date information, increase collaboration and promote active learning.

There are two different ways schools implement technology in the classroom: 1:1 and/or BYOD.

With 1:1, schools provide students and teachers with the same device. This can be difficult for some schools as they do not have the budget to implement the policy. If it can be implemented it offers several pros: ease of use, equality, maintenance, and apps. Schools must keep in mind that the technology won’t last forever. That’s why BYOD is becoming more commonplace. It’s cost-efficient, students typically have up-to-date devices, and students are responsible for maintenance and replacement of their device.

Education for the 21st Century

Instead of shuffling through possibly outdated books, devices provide access to more current and relevant information, that is often more engaging and interactive. The app Quizlet is a great online learning tool and review app for teachers and students (it was actually created by a high school sophomore). Gone are the days of lugging flashcard decks and lofty books. Apps like Quizlet and Evernote make it easy to learn with up-to-date information using quizzes, tests and study sets. They even provide a way to study a child’s progress and encourage friendly competition among peers.

BYOD in schools also helps peer-to-peer engagement. Mr. Brian Aspinall, a 7th and 8th grade teacher encourages the use of the apps, “the device acts as a support tool to brainstorming, research, etc.,” when talking face-to-face or even when working in small groups. “We use tools, apps, websites, etc. to create content, collaborate, think critically and solve problems.”

Making technology a part of active learning encourages this collaboration by reducing the negative stigma around kids and devices. Just like KwikBoost provides charging stations to keep people connected, BYOD connects children by helping each other learn through what they know best-21st century technology.

Don’t devices distract?

All of the teachers and administrators we reached out to admitted that students do abuse technology, but that is only a small price to pay. The overwhelming majority of teachers believe the benefits of BYOD far outweigh the cons. Mr. Kemp, head of ICT and learning innovation at Avondale Grammar School found that working on how to teach with technology in the classroom – before getting the technology – is the most important step in any integration process. As we evolve with technology, we need to find a way to incorporate it for best learning practices with students who practically grew up with iPads, smartphones and more.

How does technology affect students in elementary school?

It’s important that elementary students get acquainted with the power of technology at a young age. However, it can also pose problems to the young learners. Mrs. Thompson at Highland Village Elementary had the following to say about technology in the classroom,

“If students are not sure about a question, it is too easy to attempt to Google the answer. With that being said, sometimes information they receive is inaccurate or too challenging to understand because there is no filter for reading levels. Students also get wrapped up in not finding the answer quickly and become frustrated more easily, as they are used to getting information instantly. Without good reading skills, the device can hinder learning. Being aware of this as an educator and using effective management of the device, like screening websites or referring students to appropriate sites is necessary.”

Despite the problems young students may encounter, technology will play a vital role in their lives. It’s important for elementary school students to understand these challenges and not rely entirely upon apps and the Internet for all their answers.

A teaching boost

When was the last time you used your phone? What app did you use? For what reason did you use it? Take the last five or ten things you did on your phone and imagine bringing that kind of productivity, diversity and efficiency into the classroom. It’s taking what children know best and integrating it into what may be an intimidating atmosphere—the classroom. With BYOD in classrooms, teachers can boost their teaching and children can enhance their classroom time with responsible learning.

Most popular BYOD devices

The types of devices in classrooms vary. For example, most elementary and middle school students use tablets and laptops. Most students at this age are too young to have their own smartphone, which is why tablets are so popular. Meanwhile, students in high school primarily use smartphones and laptops. And college students almost exclusively use laptops.

5 Popular apps for BYOD

Google Drive – Allows students and teachers to create, revise and curate on the go anywhere, anytime.

Evernote – A great organizational app for teachers and students. This app allows students to write, collect, find and present information in a single workspace.

Quizlet – Study on the go, create flashcards, study using images and audio. This app improves students’ studying habits, especially since information is presented in an interactive format.

Common Core – Provides assistance in gauging if instructions and resources are aligned to standards. Good reference for walk-throughs and observations.

Edmodo – Great connector/platform for teachers to share information, post assignments and communicate with students.

What do you think about your child taking their iPad or phone into the classroom to learn? Are you on board? Share with us in the comments or on our Facebook and Tweet us!